4 out of 4 stars
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The Crystillaries of Echoland by Dew Pellucid is a charming coming-of-age fairy tale about a young boy’s attempt to find his missing sister. William faces down assassination attempts, parallel universes, terrifying monsters, and more. He goes on the adventure of a lifetime, refusing to return home without his twin, no matter the cost.
William Cleary and his twin sister Emmy disappeared when they were two years old. William returned with a wolf, a falcon, and a glowing plant. Emmy did not. The Graveyard Book documents hundreds of cases just like Emmy’s of people vanishing without a trace. William is the only one to ever come back. After setting out to find her, William discovers the Echoes. For every living thing born in our world, an Echo is born in Echoland. These Echoes are pale, translucent shadows of their human selves, which they call Sounds, with their own kingdom of ice and snow. They live with the Law of Death, which states that if a Sound dies, its Echo must be put to death. Unfortunately, William’s Echo is the Prince of Echoland and political unrest means that William is in grave danger. If William dies, so does the Prince.
The Crystillaries of Echoland is a wonderful young adult fantasy novel which pulls in elements of numerous other young adult sagas in a delightful way. There are echoes of Harry Potter in the magic and the boarding school set-up of the orphanage in which William hides. There are also Dementor-like creatures stalking William’s every move. The young girl taken to a land of snow and ice and held prisoner calls to mind The Snow Queen. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe reference lies in both the frozen landscape and in the discovery of a secret world. Adults are forbidden to visit Echoland and those who grow older there may never leave, reminding us of a Narnia only accessible to children.
The one thing that I found off-putting about The Crystillaries of Echoland was the sheer amount of violence for a book aimed at a younger audience. There are numerous character shot or stabbed in the chest. The lake is full of frozen corpses, including the murdered body of the king. There is a poisoning, a strangling, several assassination attempts, references to torture, actual torture, and a man drowning a puppy. None of the descriptions are extremely graphic or gory, but these are still themes that might be troubling to some children reading the book.
This is a review of the audio book version of The Crystillaries of Echoland. With audio books, a good narrator can make or break the listener’s experience of the story. No matter how good the writing, a bad narrator can make listening to it a miserable experience. B. J. Harrison does a phenomenal job of narrating The Crystillaries of Echoland. He gives each character a unique voice and his soothing tones guide the plot along quite delightfully, creating an atmosphere of suspense or safety at just the right times.
The Crystillaries of Echoland truly earns the rating of four out of four stars. From the first page to the last, the story is a gripping adventure that keeps readers engaged and anxious for answers right alongside of William Cleary. While the story might be a bit too violent for some tastes, especially as it is meant for a younger audience, I enjoyed it very much. Dew Pellucid has brought a magical world to life in Echoland and I look forward to returning there someday.
The Crystilleries of Echoland
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