Twice a year the barge comes to Grave during the night to sneak unhappy young ones away to a world of uninhibited freedom, music and eternal pleasure - all day, every day. Where desires are acted upon without care and every person burns bright with life. Retra is not like the other young partiers taking the journey to Ixion - she doesn't want to be there, she only wants to find her brother Joel, who escaped the harsh and restricted community they live in. He's the only one she's ever been able to freely talk to and form a connection with. But in order to stay safe and not attract attention, she must try to fit in. "Modesty is a sin." For a girl raised with her every move dictated by others and having to wear a veil to conceal herself, this is quite the culture shock.
It doesn't take long for Retra to make enemies and form tentative friendships and alliances. She soon learns the intricacies of Ixion and discovers that it's not all just partying and fun. Under the layers of lust and pleasure beats a darker, scarier tune, pulsing throughout every vein of Ixion. They're all warned in the beginning not to stray from the light paths, for lurking in the dark are creatures of the night. But what Retra discovers is that the dangers of this world not only lurk within the shadows, but are hidden in plain sight too. In the end, no one stays safe in Ixion.
These young souls came to Ixion with the sole purpose of freedom, to reign free and forever indulge their body and emotions. But at what price are they willing to pay for these years of ecstasy? What happens when the Ripers - Guardians of Ixion - decide you are too old to stay? What happens when you burn too bright?
Burn Bright is a dark, thrilling, fascinating ride that pulls you in along with Retra as she explores the hedonistic world of Ixion, which ultimately allows her to free that part of herself that was still shackled to the suffocating restraints of her old Seal life. Seal Retra was robbed all colour - she was black and white with a little grey struggling to break through. By the end of the novel, Naif (the name she adopted while in Ixion) is bursting with a dizzying array of colours all trying to gleam dominant. She has grown into her own - from a shy, naive girl to a brave young heroine who will risk her life to save those she cares about. Free of strict, over-bearing rules to obey and dictate, she's finally being able to breathe and begin to discover herself. I enjoyed watching her grow and I'm looking forward to seeing her continued journey of self discovery in the following books.
All the secondary characters are fantastic. I especially loved Rollo and Suki. But I have to say I am most fascinated by the leading Riper, Lenoir. He's an enthralling character, at first we're given small tastes of him and you're a little unsure, you don't really know what to expect. The more you see of him, the more you want to unravel the mystery of him. And when certain aspects come to light... well I can't say I was expecting it! He's fascinating and enticing, but when you really think about what you've learned of him, it's rather disturbing. I think Marianne has written him perfectly - given us a hint of his vulnerabilities, personality and introduced an entirely original and intriguing element. I'm quite interested to discover more about him and to see the bond between him and Naif developed more in the next book.
Marianne dives deep and explores the human desires and fears in a thoroughly captivating world that is equal parts seductive and disturbing. Dangers lurk within every shadow, voices whisper from the dark, mysteries are unravelled and new ones present themselves. Words leap off the pages, wrapping their black curls around you and lure you deeper into Ixion. I was sucked into this world, the atmosphere was brilliant and I did not want to leave. I can't wait to get my hands on book two - Angel Arias - the first chapter was included at the end of Burn Bright and it sounds just as incredible as the first book!