• Alisa Williams

Book Review: The Splintered Light



The Splintered Light

Written by Ginger Johnson

Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2018

Buy Now on Amazon: Hardcover

The Splintered Light was a delight to read, full of beauty and mystery. In Ginger Johnson’s debut novel, we’re introduced to main character Ishmael who goes in search of his older brother, Luc, who disappeared months ago. Things have deteriorated at home since Luc left. Their father died tragically, their mother is overworked with too many mouths to feed, and Ismael is suddenly seeing – and creating – color, something shocking and suspect in the grey world in which he lives. This new development is even more mysterious because no one else in Ishmael’s family can see the colors he creates.

When he discovers his brother is at the Commons, a forbidden place in the heart of the city, he goes to find him, bringing with him the news of their father’s death, his newfound ability to color his world, and a longing for reconnection with his absent sibling.

What he finds, however, is an entire world full of colors and sounds and tastes and shapes he’s never experienced before, and which don’t exist at his house, in his town, or in his world. Should he stay and contribute to the crucial work being done in the Commons, or should he return home to his family and the colorless world he left behind?

Only Ishmael can answer that, and the readers grapple right along with him in making this difficult decision. Johnson also introduces us to a whole host of supporting characters – each with their own unique gifts and abilities – who help Ishmael discover his potential.

The book felt to me like a combination of The Giver and Harry Potter, which was an interesting mix and a fun read. And maybe I’m reading too much into it, but the book also felt like a biblical allegory (or perhaps extra-biblical), with the tension between Ishmael and Luc (short for Lucifer???) at the forefront of the story, and with all, or almost all, of the other characters biblically-named as well.

I think middle-grade readers will enjoy this story of Ishmael, and the tough decisions he faces, as he discovers and hones his gifts to create a wondrous new world that he’d never dreamed possible.

This review originally appeared on NetGalley. I received a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review of this title.

Alisa Williams is the managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org. She blogs at alisawilliamswrites.com and tweets at @AWWritesStories.

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©2020 by Alisa Williams