The Sun And The Void – Loud, Bright, And Missing Something

As my most anticipated book of the year, I had high hopes for The Sun and The Void by Gabriela Romero-Lacruz. The back cover touts a lush world inspired by the history and folklore of South America, a sweeping epic fantasy of colonialism and ancient magic, as two young women’s quest for belonging unfolds. More and more I find myself in love with the myths and folklore of Mesoamerica, so this rocketed to the top of my to-read list. When I finally got my hands on an ARC, I instead found a book that made me feel next to nothing. It wasn’t terrible, but it also wasn’t great, which leaves me in a difficult place for the review. I felt tired while reading it, and stepped away often out of boredom. Despite its enormous size, the book spends a lot of time saying nothing and rehashing its few key points.

As I mentioned, the book’s premise is its greatest asset. There are some strong colonialist themes throughout the story, and they do a great job of capturing the passive horrors dealt out by conquerors. The story is set in newly formed countries after some revolutions to throw off their oppressors, but every ounce of this world still has the visible effects of Eurocentrism and colonialism poisoning the ground. We see some powerful visuals of the appropriation of indigenous culture combined with the killing of its original people. Our story in particular follows two protagonists, Eva and Reina, who are part of a marginalized people and both are looking to improve their station in life. Each of them finds themselves absorbed in the plots of manipulators who are taking advantage of the girls to try and control the magic of the world. The protagonists find themselves as henchmen to two sides of an aristocratic family struggle for power. In order to have slightly better lives, Eva and Reina kidnap women and children as sacrifices to fuel a grand spell. They find themselves falling down a ladder made of plot with little agency, hoping to avoid the very obvious conclusions of their actions rushing towards them like the ground. The best they can hope for is to tuck and roll.

As you may have guessed from my subtle hints, I didn’t like Eva or Reina. They simply aren’t compelling. They spend so much of the book blindly following orders without a thought in their heads. Their inaction felt unrelatable, even given the historical context as members of oppressed groups. The naivety of Eva and Reina just feels stretched at a certain point. A lot of this book feels pointless, often exploring “more of the same” to what we have already read. The characters never seem to grow, even when growth would move the narrative along. The protagonists both feel shallow, which is rough given how much time they spend in their heads.

Eva and Reina are both outsiders to their non-human heritages and both mythological halfbreeds, Valco and Nozariel respectively. But we don’t learn much about Valco or Nozariel culture, other than both are stronger than humans and have an affinity with magic that makes them special and different. The connections Eva and Reina had to their cultures and the clash between their modern identities and heritage could have been a fascinating angle, but it is barely explored at all.

Scenes in this book desperately needed trimming and constantly felt like window dressing. Part I focuses on Eva and Reina whining about their circumstances but doing nothing to change their lot. Part II has a time skip, presumably to cut out a large portion of the repetitive quests they are out on, but still lands us in the same place? We find them both still on said repetitious quest and still whining. Then they are both compelled to leave home, prompting a scenery change but with no material difference in the content. Then it’s a bunch of travel, camping, parties, and meals that feel like filler because nothing significant happens.

Jumping back to my earlier falling metaphor, the conclusion of this story feels like the ground rushing toward our protagonists. It is painfully obvious to the reader, in fact, it is the literal only thing you can see as it gets closer, yet somehow the protagonists feel unaware of it. You want them to do anything to save themselves; grab something, flap their arms, cast a slowfall spell, or even just reflect on their lives. Yet these two barnacles feel so robbed of agency that the only thing they seem to do is observe, out loud, “Boy that seems to be getting a lot closer huh?” It’s exhausting. By the end of this book I just wanted to hit the ground and be done with it. The ideas, themes, and setting are interesting – the execution robbed it of its power. Maybe this is supposed to be a commentary on the nature of living under the remnants of colonial power and how its taint never leaves. If that is the case, the massive bloat of the narrative makes it difficult to pull out a clear thesis of the story beyond shallow observations.

Rating: The Sun and The Void – 5.0/10

Buy this book on

An ARC of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts on this book are my own.

Leave a Reply