Invisible in a Bright Light by Sally Gardner – Book Review

Invisible in a Bright Light by Sally Gardner – Book Review

Invisible in a Bright Light by Sally Gardner

Invisible in a Bright Light

Author – Sally Gardner
Publisher – Zephyr
Pages – 320
Released – 17th October 2019
ISBN-13 – 978-1786695222
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover
Review by – Stacey
Rating – 4 Stars
I received a free copy of this book.
This post contains affiliate links.


From I, Coriander to Invisible in a Bright Light, Sally Gardner’s first middle grade novel in 14 years soars with the imagination of a master story-teller. A pitch-perfect story about a crystal chandelier that splinters into a thousand pieces, a girl abandoned as a baby on the steps of an opera house and a dangerous game called the Reckoning.

It is 1870: opening night at the Royal Opera House in a freezing city by the sea, where a huge, crystal chandelier in the shape of a galleon sparkles magically with the light of 750 candles.

Celeste, a theatre rat, wakes up in a costume basket from what she hopes is a bad dream, to find that everyone at the theatre where she works thinks she is someone else.

When the chandelier falls, she is haunted by a strange girl who claims to know Celeste’s past and why she must risk playing a game called the Reckoning to try to save the people she loves.

Review new 2021

Celeste is rudely awakened by a theatre worker shouting at her and telling her to get out of the costume basket. She is annoyed that the worker would have the audacity to shout at her and why is she in the basket?

Her day goes from bad to worse when people treat her like the lowest of the low and a worker, it’s not until she can’t find her mother and someone calls her by a different name then a vivid dream comes crashing back to her, including a dangerous game she was playing with a man in a green suit and a shipwreck. It would seem that she is still playing the game and has been trapped in the body of a different young girl.

When a chandelier in the shape of a galleon, a commission from the king for the missing ship ‘Empress’, falls and smashes Celeste is injured and rushed to hospital, but now she starts seeing a young girl who seems to know about Celeste’s real life and the game that she is playing in real life. Can Celeste get her true identity to come to her and lift the fog clouding her brain, or will she lose this part of the game and leave those lost trapped forever?

This is the first book by author Sally Gardner I have read. Invisible in a Bright Light is a magical and enchanting story that gets the reader involved in the plot and the character’s lives.

The opening scene had me very intrigued and I was eager to read on. However, after the initial excitement we moved onto the main plot and unfortunately it wasn’t only Celeste’s brain that became hazy, mine did too. The book took a lot of concentrating, re-reading and making notes so I could keep up with what was happening. Don’t get me wrong, the book is enjoyable it is just a little hard to decipher at times as the story seemed to go in numerous directions at once.

I do wonder whether the above was intentional though as we know that Celeste is a muddled young girl, and I’m wondering whether the muddling of the reader was to help them understand what Celeste was going through? Very clever if this was the intent as it makes the reader have to think hard.

The book is a full-on adventure and sometimes a little dark, especially the beginning and often mysterious. The characters were all intriguing and interesting to read about and the game had me wanting to know more. The book is set in a theatre and the descriptions of the theatre back in the late 1800s was such a delight to read about and I could perfectly visualise the workings of the place.

The story is certainly unique and whilst it might have taken me a while to get through it, I’m glad that I did as it is a book I will remember for a long time to come.

Book Reviewer – Stacey

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About the Author

Invisible in a Bright Light Sally Gardner

Sally Gardner gained a first class degree at a leading London art college and became a successful theatre costume designer before illustrating and writing books.

I, Coriander won the Nestlé Gold Award and she is also a Costa and Carnegie prize-winner. Her books have been translated all over the world and have soldover two million copies.


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What did you think of Invisible in a Bright Light? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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26 Responses

  1. Robin Loves Reading says:

    Sounds very interesting.

  2. Shelley W says:

    This sounds adorable. Super review.

  3. Tasha says:

    This sounds like a book that my younger self would have adored. I think that this would be a book that my friends eldest daughter would devour.

  4. DJ Sakata says:

    cool premise

  5. It really is an interesting book.

  6. It really is, thank you.

  7. I think it would be perfect for older children or YA readers. It is so lovely.

  8. Thanks, I agree.

  9. This is definitely a different premise. I’ll have to check it out!

  10. Entertainingly Nerdy says:

    This sounds interesting. Seems like something I would read!

  11. This sounds different.

  12. Great review!

  13. vidya says:

    that is a cool concept … and sounds like a good read

  14. Allie Bock says:

    What an interesting idea. Great review!

  15. Great review, this book looks and sounds absolutely amazing and very intriguing. I’m glad that you overall enjoyed reading this book. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

  16. Emma Mane says:

    This does sound different. I simply adore that cover. I feel a Christmas present for my Little sister might have been found.

  17. I know it is so good too.

  18. Wonderful I hope you get to as it is an amazing book.

  19. It most certainly is.

  20. Thank you, glad you like it.

  21. I agree it is very cool and is a great read too.

  22. Thank you. It is very interesting.

  23. Thank you. Glad you like the sounds of it.

  24. Wonderful I hope your sister enjoys her present.

  25. Sarah Bentley says:

    I’ve been toying with the idea of buying this for my nine year old daughter, would you recommend it?

  26. I would recommend it yes, as long as she is a confident reader.