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A Green and Ancient Light by Frederic S. Durbin ARC {4.5 Stars}

A Green and Ancient Light by Frederic S. Durbin is a reading experience to savor. It tells the story of a small village during a war without specifying where or who exactly is involved. This story could have taken place on either side of World War II, and it was delightful realizing how similar the experiences of villagers probably was. Of course, this particular grandmother has some magical secrets she is hiding from all but her grandson as well as some not so magical secrets.

Note: I received an advanced copy of A Green and Ancient Light from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

A Green and Ancient Light by Frederic S. Durbin ARC {4.5 Stars}

A Green and Ancient Light by Frederic S. Durbin
Published by Saga Press on June 7th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Historical Fantasy
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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A gorgeous fantasy in the spirit of Pan’s Labyrinth and John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things.

Set in a world similar to our own, during a war that parallels World War II, A Green and Ancient Light is the stunning story of a boy who is sent to stay with his grandmother for the summer in a serene fishing village. Their tranquility is shattered by the crash of a bullet-riddled enemy plane, the arrival of grandmother’s friend Mr. Girandole—a man who knows the true story of Cinderella’­s slipper—and the discovery of a riddle in the sacred grove of ruins behind grandmother’s house. In a sumptuous idyllic setting and overshadowed by the threat of war, four unlikely allies learn the values of courage and sacrifice.

4.5 Stars


  • The writing of A Green and Ancient Light is really what hooked me immediately. There is this nostalgic quality to it that instantly pulled me back to last century and made me appreciate the different tone that life had then. I have such trouble explaining exactly what about the writing appealed so much, but it was definitely what made this book as special to me as it turned out to be.
  • The fantasy elements are definitely there, but they aren’t the main focus of the plot. There is a mystery to solve, but the war and an enemy soldier are the primary focus until farther along. I enjoyed this sort of subtle and not-so-subtle use of fantasy. This is definitely what I want in my historical fantasy since it felt that equal attention was paid to historical details and fantastical elements.
  • This book does something strange in that the narrator decides not to disclose the names of anyone or any place. This means that you can’t really deduce what country this story is taking place in, though of course I had to make plenty of guesses. As I changed my mind throughout, it really drove home the shared experiences of the common people during war. In every country there were small villages just trying to get by and young boys missing their fathers and spending the summer with their grandmothers.
  • It is rare that the focal relationship in a story is between a grandson and his grandmother. I really enjoyed that aspect as these two got to know each other for the first time. It makes me really miss spending vacation at my grandmother’s. There is something so wonderful about that cross-generational relationship, especially when there is magic to pass down!


  • This story is definitely slower paced than many. You can’t go in expecting a fast read since the writing style really forces you to savor it. I did end up getting through the book pretty fast since I wanted to read it every spare minute, but you have to make sure you are in the right mood for a writing-driven story instead of a plot-driven one.


A Green and Ancient Light is a rich and rewarding reading experience. It very much captures the feeling of spending your summer vacation with a distant relative who turns out to be wonderful. It’s a great read to pick up as the summer is getting started, since who knows, maybe there is magic hidden in your backyard too!

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 A Green and Ancient Light by Frederic S. Durbin

© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. Sounds really interesting. I love when books give me a big picture experience, like we’re not so different from other people. I loved Terry Pratchett’s book Thud for that same reason. (And the fact that it was a Terry Pratchett book of course.?) I will have to check this one out. Thanks!
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  2. This looks like a lovely read!
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