2 out of 4 stars
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I rate The Crystilleries of Echoland by Dew Pellucid as 2 out of 4 stars. I really enjoyed the story and I found no typos, but I think the story could have been developed much more. Every chapter was short, which helps move the action along, but sometimes I would go back and reread a paragraph or a page because I felt like I missed something. Some more details of the current scene and/or more fleshing out the background information would be beneficial.
The story begins with the main character, Will, moving through his home, and introducing us to his distracted parents and protective pets. The action begins immediately as he decides to look for his missing twin sister. Suddenly he is transported to a whole new plane of existence called Echoland. The reader is rushed through learning the history and the current politics of Echoland just as Will must hurriedly learn what is going on, and who to trust as he runs for his life. Will starts to learn his place as he is suddenly submerged in magic at the Orphanage of Castaway Children. There, in disguise, it is hoped that he will fit in and be safe. His safety will also keep the kingdom safe, but nothing is quite so simple, especially for a boy unfamiliar with near-invisible people, Fate Sealers, Crystilleries, and a prince as a new friend. Adventures abound, friends and enemies are made, surprises lurk around corners or drop from the sky. The creativity of this story is great!
There are many chapters that could use more description or which offer a perfect time for more background history. For example, in Chapters 24 and 25 as they search the frozen lake, there is plenty of time for the prince to explain more of the history of Echoland or how the magic works. Presumably as an educated prince, familiar with both his world and Will’s, he would know the differences between them and could teach Will (and the reader). Chapter 25 begins with “they crossed the lake for the twenty-third time.” And it jumps into conversation explaining some history, but there is so much room for more. While I know how cold and nasty it can be on a frozen lake, I’m not sure how many young adult readers understand the numbing pain on toes and fingers, or the buildup on eyelashes, or the difficulty of sliding on the ice, fun at first then completely exhausting. Other chapters traveling through the orphanage or sitting in the infirmary have room for more details too.
The Hidden Boy needed more explanation also. I was fully willing to enter his secret bedroom and eavesdrop. It seemed plausible that he would help Will and the prince, but I was really confused as to who he was. This was cleared up some in the fight, where I felt like I had pieced it kinda together correctly, but I was still frustrated. By the time the adventure is climaxing, after the healing mushrooms and on top of the lake, it feels like too little too late. Lastly, around Chapter 49, after the boys grabbed the invisible plants, I felt a little lost for a while. So much more could have been described on this journey. Quick adventure is fun, but maybe it’s a bit too quick.
I believe that this book will lead to a series of great books. The characters have great potential, and we have only just barely met most of the characters as the focus was on Will and Peter. There are huge possibilities for the brave Emmy. The setting has been described a bit, but clearly there is potential for all sorts of activities in the orphanage halls, classrooms, magnificent library, spacious grounds, village, even the lake again. The set up is there for Will to travel between his old world and Echoland, or just live happily in Echoland.
Overall, I would recommend this book to be added to any sixth grade classroom. I think the plot is good, and with a bit more detail, I think the book could be stellar, although plausible now. The writing is clear, concise and smooth. The book is well edited - I didn’t notice a single typo. I look forward to reading more books with Echoland and these characters. The focus on fantasy, magic, and adventure creates a story for any young adult interested in this genre.
The Crystilleries of Echoland
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