3 out of 4 stars
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William Cleary’s life is not normal. The fact his pets Damian and Deá are respectively a falcon and a wolf should be the first clue that things are not normal. But things are going to get weirder. You see, Will and his twin sister Emmy were among the many children who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. None of the witnesses can remember what happened. And the only child to return was two-year-old Will, accompanied by a wolf and falcon. For the last ten years his family has been looking for Emmy, but to no avail.
Then one day, Will learns his pets were dead all along. Damian and Deá are in fact ethereal beings called “Echoes,” who briefly inhabited the falcon and wolf’s bodies. They describe a parallel fantasy world called “Echoland,” where mirror images of people; Echoes; reside in. People from our world are called "Sounds." Echoland is currently ruled by the False King, the brother to the previous monarch. Will’s Echo, the prince, is the rightful heir to the throne. But the prince’s enemies are out to kill Will. If Will dies, his Echo will die too. Now on the run from deadly foes, and accompanied by new friends, Will must help the prince ascend to the throne and find his sister. Maybe, just maybe, he will be able to get her home.
Dew Pellucid’s The Crystilleries of Echoland delivers a compelling, suspenseful narrative in its 369 pages. Despite most chapters being short, Pellucid knows how to make each chapter contribute to the story. Whether it’s characterization, tension, or world-building; Pellucid doesn’t waste time advancing the plot in each chapter. She has succeeded in crafting a world that her readers will be willing to cross over to and not wanting to return to reality until the final page has been turned.
Pellucid’s strong suit is her ability to create suspense in her text. The unfamiliar environment of Echoland is both wonderful and foreboding to young Will, and Pellucid understands this. Add in the fact that the hideous Fate Sealers and other unfriendly forces are at work, he has every reason to be unnerved by his surroundings. Put in a deadline for the prince’s coronation, Will is racing against the clock. The prince becoming king is Will's only hope in bringing Emmy home.
Many readers will fall in love with the characters present in the book. Minor and major characters have definitive personality traits that make them stand out. Whether it’s the stern headmistress Dew Pellucid (yes, the author put herself into the story and I love it), the irritable Mr. Drinkwater, Jeremy Fallon the morbid wheelchair-bound boy, the suave yet affably antagonistic Victor Valerian, or Valerian’s timid niece Valerie; most characters are distinct in their own way. Even Damian and Deá, who don’t have much of a presence in the book, have personalities aside from stereotypical guardian/mentor characters. Damian is serious and stoic, while Deá is more gentle. However, the character who will win the hearts of most readers is Peter Peterson; the young magician with a theatrical personality; who serves as the book’s comic relief character. Not only are most of his scenes and interactions with Will humorous, but Peter also owns a dog named Poudini, who I absolutely adore. I argue my dog is cuter, but I am a dog lover so I love Poudini all the same.
If there was one thing Dew Pellucid could have improved on, it would have been including more scenes with some key characters. I couldn’t help but feel that Emmy and the False King could have benefited from more scenes. Both of are integral to the character arcs of Will and his Echo, so I wish they were used more. Emmy basically grew up in Echoland, so it would have been nice to see more of a contrast between her and Will. Plus, if Emmy became a main character, she would add a lot more to the group dynamic. The False King isn’t seen in-person until one of the later chapters, which unfortunately makes him less menacing than he should be. The other antagonists are more direct threats and have more of a presence in the book. So they overshadow the False King, who should be the primary villain.
All things considered, The Crystilleries of Echoland receives 3 out of 4 stars. Despite its flaws, it is a book that young readers will enjoy. Several older readers may also find something to enjoy as well. If you have an interest in reading fantasy novels, Crystilleries may be right for you. So come on over join on a trip to Echoland. Just remember where we parked the car.
The Crystilleries of Echoland
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