The Storm of Echoes: The Mirror Visitor Series
Book Review: The Storm of Echoes by Christelle Dabos, translated by Hildegarde Serle
Published on 16 September 2021 by Europa Editions. Preorder from Amazon here and from Waterstones here from £6.64 - £16 depending on format/seller.
[Disclosure: Europa Editions provided me with an advance copy of The Storm of Echoes for the purposes of this review.]
The Storm of Echoes is the final instalment in Christelle Dabos’ Mirror Visitor series of four utterly extraordinary books. This series is probably the strangest, most compelling, frustrating and addictive series I’ve ever read. From the first page of the first book, Dabos plunges the reader into an utterly hallucinogenic world where you can’t quite believe what you’re reading.
Author, Christelle Dabos. © Chloé Vollmer-Lo / Gallimard
In Dabos’ world, something has happened to the earth – it’s broken up into huge chunks that float in a type of orbit around the earth’s core, which is shrouded in a thick mist. There are a number of very large chunks – possibly former continents - which are called the major arks. Each major ark is governed by an immortal family spirit and the population of each ark consists of the family spirit’s descendants. Each family spirit has a special power and that power, in diluted form, is inherited by the family spirit’s descendants.
The cover for the original version - in French.
It’s into this world that we meet Ophelia – who is a misfit on her ark called Anima. As she reaches adulthood, her place in Anima’s society becomes awkward as she doesn’t quite fit into her society’s expected roles. The elders on her ark decide that the way she can serve her family is to enter into a diplomatic marriage to a senior figure, Thorn, who lives on the distant ark called the Pole. Both Ophelia and Thorn become fixated on finding the answers to questions about their world – what event was so devastating to the earth that caused it to break up into arks and why are the arks governed by family spirits.
The Storm of Echoes art from The Mirror Visitor webpage.
My description make it sound as though the text is clear and the story follows logically. It’s not and it doesn’t. And yet, after reading the final instalment, I realise that the answers to all the questions, frustrations and dreamlike events are there from the very beginning. It’s both annoying and wonderful to think that the story has been so carefully and diligently planned– especially when it’s an achievement to tease out the story at all. Dabos has created her own science, maths, art, cultures, peoples and ultimately her own logic. It takes a while to learn it, but once you do, things start to make an illogical sense.
The Storm of Echoes art from the Mirror Visitor webpage.
If you detect a certain exasperation in me when it comes to these books, then you’ve detected correctly. I read the first three books in a week. I couldn’t put them down, but at the same time, abused them loudly and often. My family and friends moved away from me when they saw me reading this series.
The Mirror Visitor Series inspired fan photography.
The Storm of Echoes is an absolute must for those who loved (and loved to hate) the first three books in the Mirror Visitor series – in it, all will be revealed and it’s a rather wonderful and satisfying ending.
© Laurent Gapaillard, illustrator for many editions of The Mirror Visitor Series.
Sometimes in a series, each book can be read as a stand-alone novel; the Mirror Visitor series is not one of those. If you buy this book for someone who hasn’t read the first three, they will not thank you. You need to be trained in Dabos’ logic before you can even begin to understand what’s going on and it takes the first three books to do so.
Gallery of illustrations by Laurent Gapaillard for various editions of The Mirror Visitor Series.
As you can tell, I absolutely loved this series – it’s like nothing I’ve ever read and, like the author, I miss Ophelia already.
The Storm of Echoes and the Mirror Visitor series is the Alice Through the Looking Glass of our time.
If you enjoyed reading this review, then you may also enjoy reading my spoiler-free, mini review of the first three books in The Mirror Visitor series here.