A reserved young woman’s betrothal throws her into a world of intrigue and treachery in the first volume of Dabos’ (La mémoire de Babel, 2017, etc.) fantasy quartet.
When the world shattered, floating splinters of land called arks came under the control of powerful immortals—the family spirits for each ark. Small, quiet Ophelia wants nothing more than to look after the family museum on the Anima ark, where her power to “read” the pasts of objects and to travel through mirrors is unsurpassed. Ophelia’s life is flipped suddenly upside down when she is thrust into a diplomatic arranged marriage, and the unassuming but willful Animist must travel to the snow-covered Pole ark with an equally frigid and foreboding fianceé, Thorn. No sooner does she arrive than Ophelia finds herself in the middle of a treacherous game of politics and power in which the stakes are the very highest—her life. Dabos has managed the rarely seen triad of complex worldbuilding, nuanced character development, and enthralling plot, even making it look easy. Not a seam shows in this intricate narrative weave that centers on and empowers an endearingly bookish and clumsy antiheroine without insisting she change. Racial diversity is absent; Ophelia more than once comments that she has never had romantic or sexual feelings for a man.
Not a drop of mastery is lost in translation. (Fantasy. 14-adult)