#Series #Review: The Otherselves Book #1 and #2 by Nicole Luiken
Guys. guys. GUYS. I've discovered that I'm more than just a contemporary girl. After reading Through Fire & Sea and Amid Wind & Stone by Nicole Luiken, I now consider myself a fantasy reader, too (as long as it has some romance in it because a leopard can't completely change its spots)! I honestly didn't know what to expect with this series. I requested Amid Wind & Stone on Netgalley before I even read the first book, so that made me a wee bit nervous. What if I didn't like Through Fire & Sea? I already committed to reviewing Amid Wind & Stone so that would be really unfortunate. But lucky for me, I love this series!
Through Fire & Sea
Mirror mirror, hear my call…
In the Fire world, seventeen-year-old Leah is the illegitimate daughter of one of the realm's most powerful lords. She's hot-blooded—able to communicate with the tempestuous volcano gods that either bless a civilization or destroy it. But then Leah discovers she's a Caller, gifted with the unique—and dangerous—ability to “call” her Otherselves in mirror worlds. And her father will do anything to use her powers for his own purposes.
In the Water world, Holly nearly drowns when she sees—and interacts with—Leah, a mirror image of herself. She’s rescued by Ryan, a boy from school with a secret he’d die to protect. Little do they know, his Otherself is the son of a powerful volcano god at war in the Fire world…and he’s about to fall.
As Leah and Holly's lives intersect, the Fire and Water worlds descend into darkness. The only way to protect the mirror worlds is to break every rule they've ever known. If they don’t, the evil seeping through the mirrors will destroy everything—and everyone—they love…
Through Fire & Sea primarily focuses on Leah, an inhabitant of Fire world and a magical Caller. But Holly, Leah's otherself and an inhabitant of Water world, also becomes a major part of this story. The idea of a Leah and a Holly--the idea of mirror worlds and otherselves--is an idea that I find very intriguing. Especially because Water world is described to be much the same as earth, and the idea that earth, the planet we live on, is simply a mirror world is quite mind-blowing. Nicole Luiken did a fabulous job in creating two distinctively different worlds--worlds that appear to not only represent different elements, but also different eras. Leah's father is a duke where Holly's father is a famous Hollywood director. I think that the combination of fantasy and contemporary is why I liked Through Fire & Sea so much. The fact that two completely contrasting heroines are working together to defeat a common enemy--Qeturah--is great.
Qeturah is an extremely horrid individual and the perfect enemy for Leah and Holly to take on. She's power hungry and uses her magical ability as a Caller to disrupt and disturb the mirror worlds in an effort to destroy them so that the True world--the world that the mirror worlds are mere reflections of--is the only world left standing. You see, Qeturah was exiled from the True world, and her exile was the biggest instigator in terms of her wanting to shatter the mirror worlds. No matter that to do so she has to kill her innocent otherselves and their sons. She's truly wicked and doesn't hesitate to reek havoc.
Anyways, enough about Qeturah for now. I must discuss Leah and Gideon and Holly and Ryan. The idea behind these two pairings is that Leah and Gideon are soulmates, which in turn means that Leah's otherselves and Gideon's otherselves are soulmates, too. So, the rules of these worlds are very clear. In this book, I favored Gideon and Leah over Ryan and Holly because I felt so in tune with the characters feelings, which means that when Holly was mad at Ryan, I was mad at Ryan and wanted to avoid scenes with him. haha. I could empathize with her insecurity over Ryan's career choice as a hot shot actor. Because of the whole "soulmate" factor, fate, destiny--all that jazz--I could forgive how fast these couples came to be in love. Also, Gideon and Ryan aren't entirely human and their uniqueness and the situation surrounding it contribute to the whole insta-love thing because trust in another wasn't something they had before.
I realize I'm being super vague while also being wordy, but I don't want to give any of the surprises away! Like the somewhat cliffhanger ending of Through Fire & Sea. I definitely don't want to give that away, but just know, that last sentence made me crazy--but in an excited way.
Now, on to the next book...
Amid Wind & Stone
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Behind the mirror lies your otherself...
There is one True World, and then there are the four Mirror Worlds: Fire, Water, Air, and Stone.
Audrey and Dorotea are “ otherselves”—twin copies of each other who live on different Mirror Worlds.
On Air, Audrey has the ability to communicate with wind spirits. As war looms, she’s torn between loyalty to her country and her feelings for a roguish phantom who may be a dangerous spy.
Blackouts and earthquakes threaten the few remaining humans on Stone, who have been forced to live underground. To save her injured sister, Dorotea breaks taboo and releases an imprisoned gargoyle. Brooding, sensitive Jasper makes her wonder if gargoyles are truly traitors, as she’s always been told.
Unbeknownst to them, they both face the same enemy—an evil sorceress bent on shattering all the Mirror Worlds.
Amid Wind & Stone is just as well-written as Through Fire & Sea. The world building continues to be stellar, and the rules continue to be followed. The Wind and Stone worlds really came to life for me--even more so than the Fire and Water worlds. I felt more strongly for Dorotea and Audrey than I did for Leah and Holly in the first book because the stakes are much higher in Amid Wind & Stone. I mean, don't get me wrong, the stakes are high for Leah and Holly, too--they still haven't defeated Qeturah, and they can't let her win. They vow to help their Stone and Wind otherselves protect their soulmates and get rid of Qeturah for good.
During the opening scene, I felt every single emotion that Dorotea was feeling because the situation she found herself in (trapped in a cave in the dark--a cave that is only big enough to crawl through) was described in such great detail. I honestly almost had a panic attack because I felt Dorotea's claustrophobia and fear--the writing was that good. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to Audrey and her family--her family was probably my favorite out of the bunch. Audrey and Dorotea were much more hands on--the flying, the walking through stone, it was all very exciting. Their soulmates were more up my alley in terms of personality that Gideon and Ryan were--they were rough around the edges and Piers was a seriously cute flirt.
I will admit that I started to form an extreme dislike of Leah in the middle of the book--when she took over Dorotea's body. I could understand why she did that to Holly in the first book. I could understand that in her grief, she confused Ryan to be the same as Gideon, but I could not understand why she let the same thing happen again with Dorotea. She was letting Jasper fall in love with her when she knew that Jasper was Dorotea's soulmate--not hers. I didn't want that. It felt wrong somehow. I mean, luckily Leah came to her senses and Dorotea and Jasper reconciled their differences and let go of their prejudices. Once that happened, they became my favorite couple.
Now, I feel it's important to point out that Qeturah doesn't appear in this book as much as one would expect after reading the first one. She's still the enemy, but the chaos she creates is behind the scenes--if that makes sense. What I mean is that, bad things are happening, and it's known that Qeturah is the reason, but Qeturah's physical whereabouts are not known for quite some time. And I found the ending of Qeturah to be quite shocking. It was a good shock, but also a bit anti-climatic. I expected an epic fight to go down between Leah and Qeturah, but that's not what happened. Although, I suppose that the epic fight is yet to come. After all, Qeturah was just a puppet. Malachi is the true evil in this fight for freedom. And that surprise tease at the end of book one? Not really addressed yet. I suspect--or at least I seriously hope--that we will take a visit to the True world next, and I suspect that it will be truly epic.
Overall, Through Fire & Sea and Amid Wind & Stone are truly thrilling and magical reads. The complexity of the characters and the world building is fantastic. The adventure is exciting, and I would really love to visit these fascinating worlds again. Definitely recommend for YA Fantasy readers.