The missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos

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Text, 2019. 511 pages, paperback. ISBN: 9781925773668.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Themes: YA, Fantasy, Mystery.I have always been of the opinion that sequels never live up to, nor surpass, their predecessors. This novel proved me exceptionally wrong, as it arguably surpasses the first novel in the series. The Missing of Clairdelune continues from where Dabos left off in A Winter's Promise; Ophelia far away from the ark of Anima in Citaceleste, where enemies are frequently made, and the torrential undercurrent of politics threatens to sweep all away. Thorn, her fiancee, remains cold and unreachable, even as tensions rise and his family is torn apart. Ophelia finds herself vice-storyteller to the ancestral spirit of Pole, Farouk; her powers known to all, she finds herself amidst the nefarious plots that encapsulate Pole, and eventually trying to expose the truth behind the mysterious disappearances of influential courtiers.
Ophelia is the same engaging protagonist whose trials and moments of learning move the story along. The strength of her characterisation increased throughout the novel as she truly grows into her own and understands her identity in relation to the people around her.
Dabos' spellbinding use of imagery continues to astound, invoking a range of vivid emotions from joy to overwhelming fear.
While the story contains many subplots and at times feels cluttered or confused, Dabos carefully explores each plot thoroughly while never detracting from the main storyline. I enjoyed the continued political discussion and the newly introduced themes of freedom and autonomy, which were wonderfully explored through the characters Thorn and Farouk. The inclusion of Farouk in such an intrinsic way added a whole other dimension to the story, subtly compiling layer upon layer to create a masterpiece. The reduced need to continue worldbuilding made the pacing much steadier and the use of fragments to break up the larger story was extremely effective. The revelations from these fragments and the wonderfully unexpected plot twists created such a compelling tale that I had to keep reading until I finished the novel.
The Missing of Clairdelune is an incredibly told story of drama and magic which builds strongly upon the first book and sets the stage for the next novel in the series.
Stephanie Lam