The Storm of Echoes by Christelle Dabos
Translated by Hildegarde Serle
When I was sent a copy of the first volume in this fantasy quartet of novels by Daniela at Europa Editions in 2018, I fell in love with Christelle Dabos’ world-building in its fractured planet, the wonderfully realised young heroine Ophelia and anti-hero Thorn. Although nominally written for young adults, the book was a complex fantasy thriller, and as I said before, it reminded me very much of the feudal politics between the Atreides and Harkonnens in Frank Herbert’s classic Dune, but set in a more Game of Thrones type setting. Being written with YA audiences in mind, it’s still chaste though.
Below are my thoughts on the final volume, but here are links to my reviews of the first three so you can see what you’ve missed.
The final volume begins where the third left off, with Ophelia and Thorn reunited at Babel. They know that resolution of the mystery of ‘God’ and the ‘Other’ lies in ‘The Deviations Observatory’ which is to all intensive purposes like an asylum of old but with strange therapies. Ophelia will aim to enter as a patient, knowing she may never come out. As all this begins to happen, the world of Babel and the surrounding minor arks begins to shatter, whole chunks start to get sucked into nothingness, is it the echoes, which Ophelia must work out how to control?
Sadly, the plot descends into overcomplexity, and jettisons much of what was so wonderful about the first two volumes in particular. While it is wonderful that Ophelia and Thorn have finally fallen for each other, there is no courtly intrigue and little of the politics that so enlivened the other novels. So many of the other characters whom we’ve enjoyed are missing too, and the new characters don’t have the same attractions. Also, just when we hoped that Thorn and Ophelia would be able to work together finally to solve the mystery, they must be separated again. It felt as if Dabos had too much going on with her big ideas about God and his shadow The Other, whom Ophelia had inadvertently released when travelling between mirrors when younger, and the identity of God’s creator to be able to contain it within the world she had created. The ending in particular felt a cop out, not what I was expecting at all.
However, despite the lack of Thorn for most of the story, there was still much to like in this last instalment. I couldn’t have not followed the quartet all the way through nearly 2000 pages in total after loving the first two parts so much. (6.5/10)
Source: Review copy – thank you! The Storm of Echoes, Europa editions hardback, 538 pages.
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