Cbr14bingo Elephant (memory) the recovery of one character’s memories is key to the plot
Book two of Christelle Dabos’ The Mirror Visitor series continues to enthrall. Main character Ophelia, who has the gifts of being able to travel through mirrors and “read” the history of objects in her hands, and her betrothed Thorn, the prickly Treasurer of the remote ark known as The Pole, are fast approaching their wedding day and seem no closer to developing a meaningful bond to each other. Meanwhile, in the supposedly secure Embassy of Clairedelune, several high ranking courtiers have gone missing. Ophelia senses a link between these abductions and the “Book” that The Pole’s family spirit Farouk wants Thorn and Ophelia to “read” for him in order to recover his lost memories. Will they be able to stay alive amidst vicious court intrigue and solve the mystery before a good friend perishes?
For background about the world Dabos has created, see my review of the first book A Winter’s Promise. Book 2 picks up with news of Ophelia’s existence in Citaceleste now established and the dangers she will face increase. Thorn’s clan, the Dragons, has all but been wiped out thanks to the machinations of an enemy at court, and Thorn’s status as a “bastard” without noble rank would lead to him being completely shunned if he weren’t the Pole’s Treasurer. Now that hunger is a real threat to the Pole, Thorn has to take drastic measures to keep the populace fed. Meanwhile, Farouk, the unpredictable and dangerous family spirit of the Pole, has set eyes on Ophelia and, knowing that she is a “reader” wants for her to “read’ his Book. Through snippets at the beginning of some chapters, the reader knows that Farouk is trying to remember his childhood, the world before the Rupture, and his relationship to “God,” the entity that created him and his siblings and had something to do with the Rupture. Farouk’s memory is notoriously bad to the point that he has an “Aide-memoire” or secretary to record every conversation he has. Those who must work with Farouk, such as Thorn, know to have everything Farouk promises them written in contract form and to always have those contracts ready to remind him. Thorn desperately wants Farouk not to have Ophelia read the Book. The Book is a strange tome seemingly written on skin rather than paper, written in a script no one knows how to read anymore. Each family spirit on each ark has their own Book, which seems to be their personal history. Farouk knows there is something that he wants to remember, something that “God” is trying to keep hidden from him and it is Farouk’s obsession to discover what that is. Everyone at court knows that being able to read the Book would make a person highly esteemed and valued in Farouk’s eyes.
Thorn’s marriage to Ophelia is meant to serve his ambition to read the Book for Farouk. When two people marry, they experience what is known as the Ceremony of the Gift, wherein the power that each person has is shared with their spouse. So when Thorn marries Ophelia, he will gain the skill of reading while Ophelia will gain the skill of the claw (physical force) or the skills of a chronicler (prodigious memory). In exchange for reading the book, Thorn will lose his bastard status and become a true noble. At the end of book 1, Ophelia learned all of this and what upset her the most about it was that she did not learn it from Thorn. This has damaged the trust she was starting to have in him and in Book 2 Thorn works very hard to win it back. I’ve enjoyed watching the development of their relationship because while Thorn comes across as a hard, cold and calculating man, it becomes evident to Ophelia that there is more to him than that, that there is a reason for his abrupt and off-putting manner, and that perhaps he has deeper feelings for her than she realized.
On Citaceleste, the situation for Ophelia is extraordinarily dangerous. While Farouk has made her his “Vice story teller,” other members of the court have fun trying to trip her up and make her look bad. Moreover, Ophelia starts to receive anonymous threatening letters telling her to not marry Thorn and to go back to her home on Anima or else she will be killed. Her situation gets more complicated when one of her stories upsets Farouk, and Thorn decides to move her off Citaceleste to the resort town Opal Sands in the month leading up to their marriage. Farouk, however, is adamant that Ophelia will work for him and he and the entire court arrive there (actually, the island-city of Citaceleste docks there). Farouk tasks Ophelia with solving the mystery of the missing courtiers, and both she and Thorn find themselves at great risk.
There is a lot going on in this book and plenty of new interesting information about Thorn’s family history as well as about the disgraced clans of the Pole. The end of this book is quite thrilling and leaves us with both a cliffhanger and a sense of greater danger ahead for Ophelia and Thorn.