Review of ‘Deeplight’

As compelling as the plot of Deeplight is, the characterization is offputting. Jelt is a terrible character, and it is clear that it is intentional. However, reading of him was such a turn-off because he is cruel and manipulative, and horrible. Jelt puts himself first preceding to make Hark feel bad if things do not go according to plan. Hardinge does an excellent job of highlighting just how terrible a toxic relationship can be. Nevertheless, Jelt offers no redeemable characteristics to make him worthwhile to read.

Deeplight Offers Great Growth

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
Amulet Books
Image Credit: Edelweiss

Now, that said, the moment Hark stands up to him without backing down, that is a great scene because the reader gets to see e just how much Hark has grown as a person. He learns to appreciate himself and indeed learns much about friendship during his time as an indentured servant because even while he was a servant, they treated him with more respect and kindness than Jelt ever offered him.

Jelt’s ultimate demise is also gratifying. Probably the best part of the novel because it brought out the monster the reader could already see inside of Jelt, the corruption, the malice, the sheer arrogance, and self-centeredness came to life in incredible detail. It is a beautiful scene to witness and one worth reading repeatedly (much like Joffrey’s death in Game of Thrones).

The fantasy is there and written wonderfully. The detail, the mythology and connection to the gods, their beginnings, it was unique and wonderfully defined.

Hardinge writes with a vivid passion, allowing her to create such a brilliant fantasy with long-dead gods. The plane of existence under the sea was also unique. It is interesting to think of gods living below instead of above, creating a sinister edge to the story.

The development of the lore in Deeplight is fantastical, and I wish the book had more of it.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Deeplight is a good book, and there is something to be said about Hardinge’s representation. The fact that one of her best characters is a deaf girl is incredible.

There are not enough books featuring disabled people in strong roles, and here is one. She is a fierce, intelligent character, becoming the snarky friend Hark needs. Her dynamics with Hark are a saving grace for the novel.

There are parts that slow it down a bit to highlight Hark’s ability to grow and escape a toxic relationship. Not always easy, it is important for readers to see that nothing should trap them in an unhealthy relationship. Jelt being the only hindrance to the novel does not stop the story from being compelling.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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Product Details

Pub Date: April 21, 2020Page count: 432ppAge Range: 12 & Over
ISBN: 978-1-4197-4320-7Publisher: Amulet BooksList Price: $19.99



Writing Quality


Character Development


"Couldn't Put It Down"-ness


Intellectual Depth





  • Strong representation of a person with a disability.
  • Great fantastical elements.
  • Showcases strong character development.


  • Character dynamics need work.
  • Slow pacing risks losing the reader.
  • One horrible character risks turning the reader away.

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