As far as underrated books go, this series is really giving me that vibe. There is a decent following, but most are French speaking fans, so a little hard to communicate or understand fan art memes without a French dictionary on hand. The Mirror Visitor Quartet is a French series by Christelle Dabos, with the first book, A Winter’s Promise, and second, The Missing of Clairdelune, currently available to purchase in America. It sounds like the third will be available in May 2020 right now, with the final to be determined.
So, what is this underrated series about?
A Winter’s Promise follows Ophelia as she finds out that she not only has been betrothed to someone on another ark (they are like separate worlds/societies.ecosystems), but it will mean both giving up her position as a reader of historical objects and leaving her family/life behind. To make matters worse the world she is entering is dangerous, filled with schemers, and her fiancé also isn’t someone for her to rely on. In order to survive Ophelia will have to use her intelligence, stubbornness, and object reading to adapt to a world that would harm her just for her connection to her fiancé.
Well, that is as simple as I can make it, given just how unique this series would structure is.
Overall Rating (2 Books): 4.5 Stars
A Winter’s Promise
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
When it comes to the first book in a fantasy/sci-fi I’ve come to expect slowness. Where I struggled at first with this book was grasping the structure and rules of its world. To lay it all out, Ophelia is from an ark called Anima, her fiancé is from the Pole. The main differences between these two societies/ecosystems is the weather and abilities the people there possess. Each of the arks are also separated by a “distance/landscape” that only airships can cross. Getting that and the abilities understood in my mind took a little time and concentration, hence the 4 star review.
The world building confusion does, thankfully, subside. Once it did for me I was able to focus on the intrigue as Ophelia settles into her new “home” and “family”. This is about the point where my addiction to this series began. While Anima had objects with their own emotions and the ability to act on their own, it was safe with any darkness at least hidden for the time being. In Pole, anything goes, with the Patriarch seeming to relish or not care at all the fear and destructive violence his court breeds. Ophelia also sticks out since everyone on each ark is related, so while all the Pole citizens are pale haired and tall, she is short and brunette with glasses that change color based on her mood. She also isn’t told much by her fiancé, which puts her into more danger, so the beginning of her time there is about as safe as shark infested waters.
There is character building in this book, but it feels like most of it is focused on Ophelia and her Aunt as the two realize they’ll need to stick together just to survive her future in-laws. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing that we only get focused on these two, I really like that Ophelia seems to be underestimated by everyone, including her family, and this ends up being her chance to finally plant her feet, even if she can’t outright say no to everything.
The Missing of Clairdelune
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
This was my favorite of the two books, which seems to be how it works for me in most fantasy/sci-fi series. I appreciate the world building and setup, but the second book is almost like coming home, all the knowledge there, and now I just get to focus on the drama and characters.
The characters, being my favorite part of this book. In A Winter’s Promise, we are introduced to a whole host of characters, many of which are deeply and openly flawed when we are in the Pole. Going from Archibald to Thorn’s Aunt, it’s like the lens they see themselves in and the one Ophelia sees are like night and day. This book is their chance to shine, each person given a new light, and an opportunity to grow, or at least let Ophelia in. There’s more comraderie, and an overall sense that Ophelia is no longer on her own. It’s a nice change to the Pole we were first introduced to, and a welcome reprieve to the trapped feeling as well. It doesn’t necessarily erase the terrifying bits of court, or the fact that the people outside her circle are still pretty vicious, but it evens the odds a bit. We also get to know Thorn a bit more, and maybe even side with him? Or maybe just feel for him? I definitely took his side on a few of the moments between him and Ophelia.
This book was just a lot easier to get into compared to the second, and definitely was inhaled like air. In the end, I’m a little sad I have to wait on the third and fourth book to be translated before knowing what happens next, but I’ll be a good patient reader.
Have you read these books yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!