Book Review

The Light Between Us by Katie Khan

the light between us

I loved Katie Khan’s debut novel, Hold Back the Stars, and I’ve been looking forward to reading The Light Between Us since its release in 2018.

Thea and Isaac have always been friends, despite his constant jokes, despite her stubborn belief in time travel… despite the distance between them.

But when Isaac returns home from New York when their friend goes missing, suddenly things aren’t as they were. Something is different.

Thea and Isaac have always been friends. But maybe that wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

Thea and Isaac met as undergraduates at university and despite, or perhaps because of, their differences, they hit it off immediately.  Their relationship is tested somewhat after Isaac leaves for New York and Thea stays on at Oxford to do her doctorate, and yet it’s the kind of friendship that can survive the distance, even though things might be said that make the relationship a little tense at times.  Thea and Isaac know each other so well, and that’s really apparent while reading this novel.  Each knows how the other will react in a given situation, however strange that scenario might be, and each knows what the other will say.  They are close, and it seemed criminal to me that their friendship hadn’t gone further.  That’s not to say that all friendships are a precursor to romance – not at all – but Thea and Isaac are as close to soul mates as you’ll find, and it’s so easy to imagine them growing old together.

Thea has always been obsessed with the idea of time travel, and wishes to pursue this as part of her post-graduate study.  Her lecturers at university are very quick to quash her ideas (but not her enthusiasm) and forbid her from looking into this area of study.  Of course, this leaves her no choice but to pursue the topic in her own time, to the detriment of her doctorate study.  It’s clear that Thea has a burning desire to test her theories, and while she is passionate about this area of study, it’s understandable that Oxford may not want to risk tarnishing its reputation with such a project.  Initially, it’s hard to know if Thea is just so convinced by her theory that she can’t let it go, or whether there’s something else motivating her.  The reasons for her persistence take some time to be revealed, and either of these two scenarios is plausible, adding a touch of mystery to the narrative.

Her secretive study obviously involves a degree of experimentation, and when things go horribly wrong, Thea’s friends gather round to support her.  Khan writes female friendships really well, and I loved that these women get together without any of the cattiness that all too often lies just beneath the surface of such friendships and instances of a group of women getting together.  Too often, there’s an underlying degree of tension, but this group is completely natural.  Rosy, Ayo, and the indomitable Urvisha all have their roles to play, and are happy to support Thea as she pursues her theories.  I loved that Isaac’s arrival prompts Urvisha to query if he is “white-knighting” while making it entirely apparent how unnecessary that would be.  It’s fair to say that Urvisha is my favourite of this group 😊

The Light Between Us is a novel about time travel, and there is some exploration of theory behind Thea’s experiments.  The science is presented simply (ostensibly for Isaac’s benefit), and doesn’t overwhelm the story, and it’s as much about the friendship between Thea and Isaac as it is about the possibility of time-travel.  Isaac’s return from New York prompts an exploration of what caused these two to part ways, and I loved the will they / won’t they aspect of the novel.  I have to admit that I hoped that they would, but that I wasn’t confident of this outcome.  Of course, the only way you’ll find out what happens is to read it!

The Light Between Us is another fantastic novel from Katie Khan, and one that blends genres seamlessly.  There’s something for everyone in this novel, and I can’t recommend it enough.

9 comments

    1. Thank you! I think I preferred Hold Back the Stars overall, but The Light Between Us is a little different! Hope you enjoy it 🙂

  1. the only books I’ve ever read about time travel were not particularly enjoyable. It could be that this topic doesn’t hold much interest for me or that I’ve never find the right book

    1. I think it can be difficult to do it well, but personal taste has a lot to do with it, as you say. The best example I’ve read – the one that really stood out – was Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

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