2 out of 4 stars
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Ten years ago, when they were toddlers, Will and his twin sister mysteriously vanished, along with thousands of others. One week later, a wolf and a falcon brought Will home with the help of a glowing plant. Nobody else ever returned. Will’s parents have spent every waking moment searching for their lost Emmy.
Will is fed up with the misery and uncertainty in his family. He decides to gather together the few items that came home with him and leap into the unknown, hoping to find Emmy himself.
After a freezing journey, Will awakens in Echoland, a place of ice and translucent beings called Echoes. Each Echo corresponds to a Sound—human or animal—in the world we know. Soon Will learns that his own Echo is an important figure in that glittering, icy world. Along with finding Emmy, Will must perform a critical mission to save Echoland.
The Crystilleries of Echoland is a fantasy novel containing many intriguing and exciting elements reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, but unlike Harry Potter, I found this book difficult to follow. The story lacked sufficient explanation for me really to comprehend and to visualize what was happening. When I periodically searched my Kindle for the histories of given characters, trying to understand them better, their stories came up empty.
I was most frustrated by the character of Jeremy Fallon. He was casually mentioned four times throughout the novel, nodding and wheeling himself, without my getting any sense of his personality. In Chapter 46, the author finally stated that the boy was crippled and used a wheelchair. That sequence of presenting information seemed backward. After Chapter 46, he was not mentioned again. Jeremy Fallon’s character never seemed to have any significance. Why was he specifically named?
Many of the actions, particularly early in the tale, were presented using too few sentences, too few descriptors. I could figure out what was happening, but the writing didn’t flow naturally or create an image in my mind. Many times I had to backtrack and reread a few paragraphs to decipher what the author intended.
Elements of the story were poorly developed and dropped precipitously. Three times in the first half of the book, Peter blew his breath into a magician’s hat that he used as a weapon. How could a breath serve as a physical weapon? Why did he suddenly stop blowing hats? Twice there was a mention of Peter using his magician’s wands but no explanation of how he had the wands, what they looked like, or how they worked. The unique language of Echoland was spoken sporadically, not consistently.
Throughout most of the story, sentence fragments abounded. Some “paragraphs” contained what should be one sentence but was presented as a sentence and two fragments. The writing improved in the final one-third of the book. Then, although many sentences still began with a conjunction, I no longer read the other types of sentence fragments, so the writing flowed more smoothly.
The Crystilleries of Echoland exhibited a unique, clever premise with an action-packed storyline. The main characters were relatable and likable. The book’s short chapters kept the pages turning. At around Chapter 43, the adventures became thrilling and laugh-out-loud funny.
I most enjoyed the accompanying artwork that enhanced the story. The illustrations helped me to visualize Echoland and fostered an emotional connection with the story.
I loved the premise and the excitement, but because I had difficulty following the story during the first two-thirds; because several characters, actions, and themes were left undeveloped; and because the profusion of sentence fragments bothered me, I rate The Crystilleries of Echoland two out of four stars. Readers who would share my concerns probably don’t want to read this book. Based on the awards it has won and the high ratings it has received, though, I think other readers who love fantasy and action will truly enjoy a visit to Echoland.
The Crystilleries of Echoland
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