People are vanishing from Clairedelune. In the second book of Christelle Dabos‘ “The Mirror Visitor Quartet”, The Missing of Clairdelune, published by Europa Editions, people are mysteriously disappearing from the chateau Clairdelune. The home to the one of The Pole’s aristocrats, its also one of the most secrepalaces in The Pole.
As we saw in the first book in the series, A Winter’s Promise, our protagonist Ophelia has been moved from her home to a new country, or as they are referred to on this world ark, for the purposes of an arranged diplomatic marriage. In this second instalment not only does she have to continue the work of learning how to navigate this new society and her fiancé Thorn, she also has to deal with very real threats against her life.
She also discovers the reasoning behind her marriage, and why Thorn, in spite of his antipathy for her, wanted her in particular to be his bride. Each of the arks are ruled by a family spirit. Each of the family spirits has their own book. Supposedly this book tells the story of who they are and how they came about. Unfortunately they are all written in a language no-one understands – not even the spirits themselves.
Farouk, the family spirit who governs The Pole wants a reader to “read” his book and tell him its history. (A reader is someone who can pick up an inanimate object and recount everything about it – from who touched it to how that person was feeling at the time they touched it.) Ophelia was one of the most gifted readers on her world and her reading his book would be an obvious solution to this request.
However, Thorn has something different in mind. When a couple are married on The Pole the ceremony gifts each partner with the other’s abilities. So when they’re married, Thorn will become a reader and Ophelia will acquire his skill of being to harm people without touching them.
Thorn has made an agreement with Farouk that if he successfully reads his book he will be named head of his family and elevated to the nobility. He was born out of wedlock and this would bring him the respectability and power to protect the other members of his family.
While all these intrigues are taking place Ophelia continues to receive threatening letters telling her God doesn’t want her here, and members of the aristocracy are disappearing from places of safety. When it turns out each of them have received letters similar Ophelia’s, she turns to the only one she can trust, Thorn.
Although still cold and distant his walls are starting to break down and they begin to draw closer – perhaps because neither have anyone else they can turn to. When Ophelia’s entire family suddenly announces their pending visit during this crises Thorn wisely whisks them all off to a holiday spot away from the court and its intrigues. Unfortunately they’re unable to escape the mysteries of the disappearances nor the court’s intrigues. For Farouk decides to fly the entire court to the holiday spot and then appoints Ophelia to be the one to discover the culprit behind the kidnappings.
Working under a tight deadline she eventually finds out who was responsible, but not without Thorn being blamed and imprisoned for killing the culprit. However, Farouk allows the couple to be married in Thorn’s jail cell, and it’s there they learn the secret of who is behind everything.
Once again Dabos has crafted a wonderful tapestry of a story. Each character and plot line has been carefully woven into its structure to create a vivid and intriguing picture. The development of each character is a joy to observe, as people readers have come to know and love/despise continue to flourish and plot through out the book’s pages.
Dabos also continues to give readers a better view of the complexities of the world her characters inhabit. Little written asides begin to provide us with insights into the backgrounds of the family spirits and where they came from.
However, these are only tantalizing clues as to the whole story. As with her characters Dabos leaves readers with just enough information to make us need to find out the entire truth. The Missing of Clairdelune is a masterful second chapter that will ensure readers will keep coming back for more.