4 out of 4 stars
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When I accepted The Crystilleries of Echoland by Dew Pellucid for review, I had no idea that I was about to be lured into a parallel universe of mystery, intrigue, and magic. By the end of the book, the author would lead me to experience love, loss, hope, friendship, and finally redemption with an intensity that made me feel as if I were inside the story myself.
It all begins with the disappearance of thousands of children. There is no evidence. There are no clues or witnesses. Two-year-old Will and his twin sister Emmy are among the children taken. Their case, however, is different from all the others. Will returns, the only child ever to re-appear. Though Emmy is not with him, he is not alone. The toddler rides upon a wolf (Damien). A falcon (Dea) circles above them. In the years that follow, they will become his closest friends and protectors. With Emmy still missing, Will’s parents withdraw into themselves. His father comforts himself in books while his mother becomes obsessed with finding Emmy at any cost. Will is most often left to fend for himself with Dea and Damian as his only companions. He is alone and though he does not know it yet, he is in great danger.
Just before his thirteenth birthday, Damien and Dea reveal a stunning truth which lays at his feet the destiny of two worlds, theirs and his own. Their world is a land of reflections. The beings and objects of our world are known as Sounds. All which exists in Echoland is a translucent Echo of what we know here as “real.” There is much beauty below, in this mirror of our world. It is a stunning, sparkling land of winter wonders. But the realm is tainted by evil. Darkness haunts Echoland in the form of terrifying creatures known as Fate Sealers. Though born as normal Echoes, through the method of their making they have become sadistic, soulless parodies of what they once could have been. All humanity has been brutally expunged. It is they who enforce the Law of Death. This edict directs that when a Sound dies, so too must its Echo. So, what is an Echo to do if another stands in his way to wealth or power? Well, kill the Sound, kill the Echo. The Fate Sealers allow no breach of this. Some of the worst are even willing to assist.
Will’s Echo is the Prince of Echoland. With the King missing and presumed dead, he is the heir apparent. Unfortunately, he has powerful enemies who wish him to never take the throne. Thus, Will finds himself hunted by creatures out of nightmares. Now, with the help of Dea and Damien, as well as new friends he makes along the way, Will must not only rescue his sister but also thwart evil’s plan to seize rulership of Echoland, plunging it forever into darkness.
I have always loved the concept of parallel worlds, and Dew Pellucid’s unique take on it does not disappoint. The Crystilleries of Echoland drew me in from the very first chapter. Sometimes dark and disconcerting, it is a fast-paced, convoluted coming-of-age story, fantasy heroic adventure and murder mystery. The author breathes life into a world alien to us, masterfully imparting a surreal sense of wonder and discovery. It is written with such reality that as the reader journeys through shimmering illusions, heightened emotions, and sometimes deadly encounters, they become fully immersed in the experience. Echoland blossoms into existence in the reader’s mind not as a typical mirror world, but as a fully developed world of its own to which each of us is potentially connected. Hauntingly eerie illustrations by Andy Simmons and Tal Boldo serve the dual purpose of enticing us ever further into Pellucid’s world and providing a pause for breath after the break-neck speed of each chapter.
The author is equally adept in her character development of the Echoes, Sounds and Fate Sealers who call Echoland home. Most of the Sounds who reside there are the missing children from our world. The Fate Sealers seek to kill them so that their Echoes must die as well. Will takes refuge in an orphanage built specifically to protect these children, and it is here he meets the friends who will aid him and his Echo in their quest to retake the kingdom. Each of these intrepid souls becomes a well-developed character and is provided with a full backstory. This element adds details and depth to the main storyline.
There was very little not to like about this novel. I found only two very small errors. The one thing that did bother me a bit was the author’s apparent obsession with the word “lucent.” While “glowing with or giving off light” (webster.com) is indeed an accurate description of much found in Echoland, using the word almost every other page seems a bit much. However, as it did not negatively affect the story, I wholeheartedly give The Crystilleries of Echoland 4 out of 4 stars.
There is one significant item I feel I must mention. Though the book at first seems suitable for a tween audience, the story gets quite dark at times. There is nothing horror story worthy, but it does contain a few fairly intense scenes and some of them are quite grisly in nature. The Fate Sealers kill coldly and without remorse and this is not diluted for more palatable consumption. It is precisely this grim mood, however, which creates the desperate reality of Will and the Prince’s need to succeed in their quest. I do not feel I can recommend it for the tween or even the younger teen set without parental supervision. Mid-to-older teens or adults who have a fondness for fantasy, sci-fi or mystery genres and anyone with a penchant for the world of Harry Potter would find it a fascinating and most enjoyable read. As for myself, I very much look forward to any sequels that may follow.
The Crystilleries of Echoland
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