Trigger Warning: The book reviewed here depicts sex, rape, violence, heavy amounts of gore, and regular use of profanity. Slavery, abuse, torture, and revenge also serve pivotal roles in the plot. If you have any sensitivities toward such subjects or otherwise take offense to them, proceed with caution.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for Sister of Echo: The Making of a Villain (Part One) and Sister of Echo: The Making of a Villain (Part Two). Keep this warning in mind as you continue reading.
Today I’m reviewing Sister of Echo: The Making of a Villain (Part Three) by Ameel Koro, the third installment in his Sister of Echo: The Making of a Villain series.
We last left Alina as she decided not to abandon Corina and to fulfill her promise of taking the woman to her former master, the ominous vampire lord Ovlar. Alina also hopes that, in helping Corina get the army she needs to take revenge on the Artucians, she will be able to rescue the man who loves her (and whom she loves), the young guard Sinna. Winter weather, a harsh terrain, predators, and Corina’s injured leg all stand in their way as they make the trek to Ovlar’s castle. Defying all odds, they finally reach the vampire’s realm, but how welcomed will they be? Can they convince Ovlar to mobilize against the Artucians? And if they do, will they survive the battle—and each other?
In the great city of Artucia, Cordillia attempts to prepare for Alina’s return and convince the other queens to do likewise, but that feat proves difficult when they begin mourning for the last Great Mother. Despite her best efforts, Cordillia cannot get the other queens to believe her on the vampire threat. She only has one choice left and it’s unthinkable, violating the dearest of all their laws set by the Great Mothers. Can Cordillia save her children, the other queens, and their people? Or is it already too late?
The next 286 pages roll out a seemingly-endless chain of secrets, deception, grudges, and, of course, war. Koro provides a glimpse into the much, much wider world of vampires and other mythical creatures from as far away as Rome. More importantly, he throws readers insights into the intricate—and violent—interactions among multiple vampires, a concept which he will hopefully expanded upon in his future work. The vivid imagery, action, compelling character interactions, and creative energy behind his mythical creations make Koro’s book a hard one to put down.
I would argue that Koro’s writing gets better with each book. Sister of Echo: The Making of a Villain (Part Three) certainly exceeds the quality of Part One and, surprisingly, Part Two. My favorite aspect of the book became the numerous cases of bad blood among the high-ranking vampires in the second half of the book. Like Alina, I felt thrown out of the loop but I loved reading about their interactions, especially the backstabbing. They showed me that Alina is the least of Ovlar’s problems in the revenge and deceit department. They also create an unexpected obstacle for Alina in finding Sinna as she becomes stuck in the middle of multiple vampiric feuds.
In these feuds, Koro introduces many intriguing new characters. The three whom I grew most invested in are Rodica (the only female leader of a vampire realm at the battle), Allison (the servant of one the big three who takes a liking to Alina), and Allison’s unnamed vampire companion, a servant of The Snakeborn and an unparalleled force of power and mystery. I don’t think that these characters got the space on the page they deserve but, based on the end of the book, I hold hope that Koro will return to these three, even if it’s only in memory.
While the new elements revealed in Part Two and Part Three still overshadow the original concept from Part One, I did not mind that this time. Sinna and Alina’s love still plays a part here but it gives way to the much more compelling relationship between Alina and Corina, one filled with mutual hate and, for a time, dependence. I simultaneously love and hate these women, see their glaring flaws and still feel for them, a sign of good character development. Their relationship not only drives the plot behind Part Three but promises more emotional turmoil and bloodshed in the rest of the series.
I became distracted by a few aspects of the book, although not as many as in the previous installments. Some are technical in nature. Koro slips constantly between past and present tense without a purpose behind it, but that problem can be solved with a little more proofreading. Similarly, many grammar errors appear throughout the e-book. Again, that’s a matter of additional proofreading and doesn’t detract much from the story itself. Some of these errors include unnecessary commas, missing commas, unnecessary a’s, and, occasionally, the use of “complement” when the writer should have used “compliment”.
A few stylistic matters also bothered me. Koro uses “awe” and variations of “awe” too often, especially during action sequences. He also uses the word “guy” in the modern sense (i.e. “man”), which isn’t a big deal but that usage didn’t arise until sometime after 1800. This meaning makes the narration and dialogue feel too modern. Still, it’s an easy fix should he choose to address it.
I have mixed feelings about the action scenes within the battle. On the one hand, they are very exciting and compelling, as well as thoroughly planned. On the other hand, so many different fights among individuals and/or small groups are depicted that they slow down the narrative. At times too many players enter a scene, causing some confusion along with switching among all the components of the battle. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This technique reflects the chaos of the battlefield, allowing the reader to feel as lost and desperate as Alina.
Overall, Koro did not disappoint with Sister of Echo: The Making of a Villain (Part Three). Yes, some issues from the first two books still linger, such as some modern language and grammatical errors. Nevertheless, I really liked the book. It’s compelling, mysterious, and kept me guessing from beginning to end. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series, Sister of Echo: Bronze Chamber, and I hope that Koro will return to some of the many characters and interactions he touches on in Part Three.
I highly recommend this book for fans of epic fantasy, historical fantasy, and vampires. If you like powerful women who know how to get what they want, you’ll definitely love Allison, Corina, and many of the other women who populate the world of Sister of Echo. It’s quickly climbing up Amazon’s list of Top 100 Free Books in the Teen & Young Adult Survival Stories eBooks category, so check it out while it’s still hot.
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