It is true that I struggle at the moment to be totally engrossed by new novels. I don’t know whether it’s my lack of motivation or because as a writer, I have a tendency to critically analyse everything I read. I was both surprised and relieved when I came across a novel that I just couldn’t put down, so much so, I bought the second one as soon as it came out in paperback and read it in two days. This is a series that you don’t want to give a miss.
I found ‘A Winter’s Promise’ by Christelle Dabos when I was in Waterstones last year. I don’t go into town very often but on this occasion I was there and I had time to kill. The cover drew me to the book first, it’s gorgeous and strange, but it screamed fantasy at me and I love fantasy. I discovered it had been written by a French author and translated into English, and one look at the blurb told me that it was not your usual fantasy. I was delighted, something new, fresh and quirky.
Open the book and you’re introduced to characters with unique talents and a broken world comprised of arks, and I mean a literally broken world. Imagine the Earth had been smashed into pieces and these pieces (arks), floated around the Earth’s core like planets orbiting the sun. This is the world our main character, Ophelia, lives in, and she lives on an ark known as Anima.
The people on each ark have unique abilities, passed on to them by their Family Spirit, an immortal being who is in charge of the ark. There is one Family Spirit on nearly every ark, and all of them appear to suffer from Amnesia. On Anima, the inhabitants can alter physical matter. Ophelia can ‘read’ the past of objects and travel through mirrors. She works at Anima’s museum, reading the past of objects before the world was broken, but her life is turned upside down when she is sent to The Pole, a far away, northern ark, to marry a man named Thorn.
The Pole is the complete opposite of the warm, quaint and peaceful Anima. Not to mention that Ophelia’s fiancé, Thorn, is about as friendly as a brick wall. The Pole is harsh, cold and wild, but the majority of the nobility live in the impressive, floating Citaceleste. Its inhabitants belong to clans with specific abilities who constantly lie, cheat and step on one another in an attempt to receive favour from their Family Spirit. It’s a dangerous ark, and even more so when your fiancé is hated by all the clans. Ophelia can’t understand why she has been sent here, or why she has to marry Thorn when he seems to despise her. Not content with sitting and waiting for her doomed wedding, Ophelia sets out to discover the secrets of the Citaceleste and her place in this new ark.
I would describe this series as a mystery and a fantasy combined. It has fantasy elements from the world building and the characters, but it is also a mystery because there are secrets, threats and murder. The story is fast-paced and beautifully written, whoever translated this book into English did an amazing job. It was so easy and enjoyable to read that the pages flew past my fingertips. The characters are intriguing and full of depth and personality. I love Ophelia, and Thorn constantly kept me on my toes, but what I enjoyed the most was the world and the different societies. The world is so strange and full of magic, you can’t help but want to discover more.
I would highly recommend The Mirror Visitor Series and I’m eagerly awaiting book three to come out. This series may well compete with some of my all-time favourite books, but I will hold back on any judgements for now. If you have read any of The Mirror Visitor Series, let me know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter, @CaitlinLynagh.