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Friday, July 10, 2009

Echoes in the Dark by Robin D. Owens

Echoes in the Dark by Robin D. Owens
Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises Ltd
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (548 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

The planet is dying, slowly being drained by an alien Dark, and only one last, desperate plan can save it.

Deep in another dimension, a disillusioned young singer is summoned as Lladrana's last hope. Uncertain of her future, unaware of her extraordinary magical talent, Jikata will be the sixth and final outsider—Exotique—to step through a dangerous portal of prophecy and magic. Survival will require her to forge closer friendships than she has ever known. The price of those bonds will threaten the very fate of Lladrana: a world where music holds the key to an ancient mystery—and six women will wage the ultimate battle against the forces of Dark.

Echoes in the Dark is a symphony of perfection. This book is the culmination of a series that touches your heart on many levels and depths of passion. You cannot walk away from reading this series without caring for, rooting for and crying for the characters.

In this final book in the Summoning Series, the character focus is on the romances between Jikata and Luthan, Raine and Faucon. These two couples bring all the threads together which Ms. Owens has been weaving in throughout the series, creating a majestic world tapestry, vibrant in its background, environment and culture.

The format for the story was akin to sections in an orchestra. Ms. Owens starts with one section, just like a conductor. She switches POV in a seamless yet mind-boggling cohesive maneuver that focuses on each important event, with every entry bringing the reader closer and closer until the whole cast is on the same page, the same battle, the same focus of determination – to save the planet, Amee.

The strength of this series and this book is the sense of community and the characters who people it.

The secondary characters are familiar and well adored by me at this point because I’ve met them all during the previous books. The conflict, the evil Dark, threatens the entire world that Ms. Owens has created and by this point I felt committed and connected to these people. I cared about what was about to happen, and fearful about their future. So much hung in the balance, so many variations of the future were foretold. Will they succeed? Who will survive? The answers brought actual tears to my eyes -- tears of happiness and loss. How many stories have you read lately that have touched you in just such a way -- that inspires feelings for a people that thrive only in the mind of an author?

In addition to powerful characterization, tight and gripping dialogue and astounding world building, the fantastical magic creatures are both mysterious and a delight to this reader. And even they, as far from my reality as fantasy creatures can get, tug at my sympathy because they too are vital to the mission and affected by the outcome.

As far as the main romances, I think Raine’s is the most compelling because unlike the previous Exotiques, she was an abused innocent who’s character became like tempered steel, enabling her to pierce the armor that Faucon encased around his heart. Their romance was one that I truly rooted for because of Faucon. That man had gone through so much; had had his heart ripped out previously and it was pain and pleasure to watch his healing take place. I found it tragic to watch a man who used to be so upbeat and lively turn into a tortured man, believing he’d never find anyone to love him. When you read about people like that, don’t you want to save them? Don’t you want to cry at the injustice of loss and at the same time tell them not to give up hope? His story was a major draw for me in this book. Ms. Owens did not disappoint.

As for Jikata and Luthen, I was happy for them too. There was a bunch of interesting personal angst going on that played well into the plot and the romance. Two powerful people having to come to terms with their differences and similarities in time to make it all work. There was some pressure on Jikata to be sure and I found her patience with that old bat, the Singer, to be heroic in and of itself. I didn’t like the Singer and perhaps she knew she needed to be that way to work with Jikata’s personality. I don’t know. But I bet you Jikata is a better person from dealing with her.

I’m having a hard time limiting myself in this review because there is so much more that I want to talk to you about, to share my excitement and my feelings about what other favorite parts made this book so special. Suffice it to say, Echoes in the Dark is a masterful conclusion of a tale well told, that has eminent re-readability and characters that stay with you long after the final Song is sung and the last page is read.