‘The Storm of Echoes’ is mystifying dive into metaphysical and beyond

photo of the book Storm of Echoes
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Grade: 3.5/5.0

“The Storm of Echoes,” the final installment in French author Christelle Dabos’ “The Mirror Visitor” quartet is a fascinating yet harrowing conclusion to the series. Looping wildly through revelatory sequences, the twisting narrative keeps readers on the edge of their seats from start to finish. Following protagonist Ophelia and her husband Thorn on their quest to defeat an omnipotent being known as God, the novel satisfyingly explores the strangest parts of Dabos’ metaphysical world and showcases what her books are best known for: their exponential increase in absurdity.

Ophelia and Thorn chase down the answers to all the questions readers have piled up during the past three books as they unveil God’s secrets — God being the nickname of a character named Eulalia Gonde, an omnipotent woman who sought to change the world for the better, but in attempting to do so mistakenly unleashes her apocalyptic reflection called “the Other” into the world. It’s as strange as it sounds. Ophelia and Thorn attempt to track down God and the Other to restore order, while concurrently uncovering the true nature of the world that surrounds them.

While the story picks up around a fifth of the way in, it does get off to a slow start. The author spends more time than necessary in the first few chapters rebuilding the world already so meticulously created in the last three books. As a roadmap of sorts, Dabos repeatedly includes the questions burning on Ophelia and Thorn’s minds, but they often read as clunky instead of lucid, slowing the pacing and reading as a dissertation rather than a novel.

However, as the two characters immerse themselves into the thick of it, “The Storm of Echoes” becomes a real page turner. Each gripping sequence of events, though conceptually complex, is smoothly written and drives the plot forward at a fast pace. While some may consider the plot connection to the first two books as weak, Dabos has artfully expanded on their underlying and unsettling subplots into its own riveting manifestation. Regardless of the perplexing plot, most discrepancies are overshadowed by brilliant writing, steady pacing and an overall exciting nature — Dabos’ translator even beautifully mixes French words into the English-translated dialogue.

The political undertones fans fell in love with in the first two books remain present in the fourth, prompting critical connections to the real world. Contrasting the aristocratic and powerful with characters who are self-made and unfailingly humble, Dabos paints a picture of a world torn apart not only by unseen apocalyptic events but by class struggles as well.

As Ophelia uncovers secrets from God’s life to help her return order to the world, “The Storm of Echoes” spends considerable time in the abstract, making for a novel that’s less plot-driven and more ideological. Reading the novel is like walking through a funhouse mirror maze: The best part of the novel is that it’s meant to be confusing, as that is truly the nature of the world. Readers feel as flabbergasted as Ophelia as she attempts to rectify God’s mistakes, makes revelation after revelation and puts herself through the most ludicrous tests to reach her end goal. This also speaks to her considerable character transformation, as she is now nearly unrecognizable in comparison to the soft-spoken girl introduced in the first book.

Beyond bewildering but piquing curiosity nonetheless, “The Storm of Echoes” is nothing short of a fever dream. At its conclusion — as all the threads finally tie themselves up, as each wave of understanding washes over readers — Dabos’ final installment offers a chilling but simultaneously euphoric experience. The entire premise of the novel is simply mind-blowing, as it unveils shocking, outlandish plot details that readers likely weren’t even contemplating. Leave any expectations at the door — they won’t do you any good on this thrilling, bittersweet ride.

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected]. Tweet her at @callmepbj.