Love, Loss, and Redemption—a Review of Merchants of Light and Bone

Published 17 Apr 2024
by Anca Antoci

Title: Merchants of Light and Bone
Author: Erika McCorkle
Released: 08.08.2023
Buy from Amazon
4.46 (read)
Our review:
3.50 (read)

Join me today as I delve into the intricate world of “Merchants of Light and Bone” by Erika McCorkle, a dark fantasy masterpiece that beautifully portrays the power of grief, redemption, and familial bonds. Being part of The Write Reads blog tour, I had the chance to fully immerse myself in the epic landscapes and complex plot of this dark fantasy tale. Before I tell you what I think of this book, let's take a look at the synopsis.

Book description from the back cover

Sorrow in paradise
A parent’s worst nightmare
When grief drives one to revenge

Living in a tropical paradise with his spouses and kids, Amiere is a merchant of light, a sculptor who carves glowing crystals into spectacular and powerful, demon-killing works of art. When the ground opens up near his idyllic village to reveal a massive supply of crystals, the whole nation of Aloutia celebrates. The merchants are guaranteed money for decades and officials predict Aloutia will be safe from demonkind for generations. But Amiere isn’t rejoicing—when the ground split apart, his seven-year-old daughter fell to her death.

Amiere’s grief turns to rage when an old enemy returns to the village with a young daughter displaying signs of starvation and abuse. Having witnessed his own daughter’s death, Amiere cannot bear the thought of watching another child die, especially when he can prevent it. Unable to ask police for help due to the village’s reputation of hostility toward authority figures, Amiere takes matters into his own hands, even at the risk of being exiled and separated from his family forever.

My review

Merchants of Light and Bone is a dark fantasy novel in the Pentagonal Dominion universe, written by Erika McCorkle and published by ShadowSpark Publishing. Despite being part of the universe, it can be read as a standalone. The setting is a tropical paradise where Amiere, a merchant of light, lives with his family.

The book opens with Amiere, who is filled with grief after losing his daughter Tawny. The earth cracked open, causing her to fall into the crevice and meet her demise. Amiere is united in marriage with both Su and Liesle. The three of them express their grief for their daughter’s death in different ways. Moreover, Amiere takes notice of Asuna, who is Miltico’s adopted daughter. She looks starved and abused. The sight of the girl suffering breaks his heart.

In addition to their grief, the family gets caught up in the schemes of powerful players with questionable intentions. Amiere and his two spouses make tough choices to protect their children, paying a heavy price.

What I Loved About it

The essence of “Merchants of Light and Bone” is a masterful blend of emotions skillfully crafted by McCorkle. The exploration of grief, sorrow, and the lengths one would go to for justice is truly remarkable. Amiere, the protagonist, is a character who undergoes a profound transformation, grappling with unimaginable loss while seeking redemption in the face of adversity. McCorkle’s portrayal of his journey is both raw and poignant, evoking a myriad of emotions that linger long after the final page.

The thematic depth of the novel is further amplified by its exploration of familial bonds and the complexities of love. Amiere and his spouses Su and Liesle face grief and revenge, making tough choices that challenge their resilience. The relationship dynamics among the characters are meticulously woven, enriching the depth of an already captivating plot.

What didn't resonate with me

“Merchants of Light and Bone” has strong themes and character development, but at times I had trouble staying engaged. The extensive world-building, while impressive in its detail, often overshadowed the plot, resulting in moments where the pacing felt sluggish. I feel that a more streamlined approach would have served the story better, allowing the emotional core to shine through without being overshadowed by exposition.

Themes explored

Merchants of Light and Bone explores the themes of love, sorrow, grief, and revenge with exceptional depth and subtlety. Amiere’s journey serves as a poignant exploration of resilience and the transformative power of familial bonds. With finesse, McCorkle explores the intricate nature of grief, constructing a narrative that strikes an emotional chord.


In conclusion, “Merchants of Light and Bone” is a compelling addition to the dark fantasy genre, offering readers a nuanced exploration of grief, redemption, and the resilience of the human spirit. Although the pacing of the novel may occasionally suffer due to its extensive world-building, McCorkle’s beautiful depiction of intricate emotions and family connections guarantees that it remains an engrossing book. For those who enjoy fantasy tales that tug at the heartstrings and provoke introspection, “Merchants of Light and Bone” is a must-read.

Our final verdict: