Echoes of Darkness (Echoes Trilogy #2)
Written by Cheryl Campbell
Published by Sonar Press
Mass paperback, 384 pages
Picking up shortly after the first book, Echoes of War, the second installment of the Echoes trilogy drops us right into the fray as the Commonwealth/Brigand coalition makes plans to liberate Boston from the Wardens.
Dani, our lead resistance fighter, has managed to impress the right people and get a certain amount of authority, whether she wants it or not. As much as she shies away from the responsibility of leadership, she continues to find herself pulled into the role. With the help of Mary, Miles, Oliver, and Hattie, she maneuvers through both office politics and real world threats. She seems a little more grounded this time out, settling in after the character development from the first book. Her relationships feel a little more stable, even though it’s dodgy with Miles, given their history. Are they an item? Are they not an item?
Relationships play a bigger part of the story this time around, as Dani now has a place in the Brigand community. Her relationship with Miles, though complicated, gives her a grounding that she didn’t have in the first book. She feels more like she’s found “her place” after the death of her brother Jace. And while she sees her connection with Miles’ son Oliver as more of a brother/sister dynamic, from personal experience it feels a lot like the son/step-mother pairing you find when the son actually gets along with Dad’s new girlfriend.
Oliver’s role in the story can’t be overlooked, both in terms of how he helps Dani stay grounded, but also how he becomes part of the team as a matter of consequence. Despite Miles and Dani both making efforts to keep him safe, his circumstances in this Act II demonstrate that no one is completely free from war and the price that has to be paid. (And no, I’m not hinting one way or the other about Oliver’s ultimate fate…)
Rowan is a more fully realized villain this time, and we get to see his side of the war a little more acutely both in his interactions with his subordinate and with his family at home. It’s adds dimension to Rowan as a character, even though his wife seems bit of a one-note character. I can forgive her simplicity only because she’s mainly a “point A to point B” character that serves a particular function. She doesn’t quite work to make Rowan more sympathetic, and I think that actually works against the dynamic of showing Rowan’s family. There are too few scenes where you see them as a couple before she turns into a flat NPC-type that fills a role more than she advances the story.
Rowan’s second, Curtis, gets more to do, and I found myself wanting to get a little more of his machinations firsthand rather than hearing about it “off camera” in dialogue. As he’s working the system out of sight, the politics of the Wardens are only hinted at, and I think there are missed opportunities with that story thread dangling in the periphery.
Other story threads introduced here — the military leaders from other areas, the introduction of Ancients, the power struggle among the Wardens — serve to set up the third book as the threads from the first book get tied up here. This second book, while it tells its own story, seems to be wrapping up loose ends from the first book while laying the ground work for the final act in the next book. It’s a “middle” with all that implies.
Without getting too deep in the weeds as far as spoilers go, let’s say it was nice to see Dani get more development, and while it would be nice to see her become a little less impetuous, she’s still relatively young and has a lot to learn (relearn) about being a grown-up. And as we get to the end of this act and move into the last installment of the trilogy, it will be interesting to see how she adjusts to her new status.