Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity, #6, #6
Published by Berkley on 9th August 2022
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Silence has fallen. The Psy are free to feel emotion. Free to love. But Silence was never a prison for Ivan Mercant. The biggest threat to his future lies dormant in his brain—a psychic monster that wants only to feed. And now, the brutal leash he’s kept on that monster is slipping. He prepared for this day, for the end of Ivan Mercant . . . but that was before he met Lei.
As primal as she is human, this wild changeling brings color into his life, laughter to his soul. Then the dream shatters in a rain of blood, in silent bodies in the snow. Lei is gone. Vanished without a trace . . . until he meets strangely familiar eyes across a busy San Francisco street.
Soleil Bijoux Garcia is a healer who has lost everything. She exists in a world of desolate aloneness . . . till the day she finds herself face-to-face with a lethal stranger. The animal who is her other half knows this man, but her memories are tattered fragments. Sorrow and a need for vengeance are all that drive her. Her mission? To kill the alpha of the DarkRiver leopard pack.
But fate has other plans. Soon, a deadly soldier who believes himself a monster and a broken healer might be all that stand between life and death for the entire Psy race.
When I dived into ‘Storm Echo’, I knew I was in for a meaty read. Nalini Singh’s once-a-year Psy-changeling books do come in as a treat and honestly, I do tend to get my expectations high because of how long I’ve been following this series.
What I like about season 2 of the series is how Singh seems to now focus on characters who fall between the notable ranks of categorisation—both Psy and Changeling alike—individuals who have their own unique circumstances and aren’t like the mainstream Psy/Changeling pairings we had in the first set of books. But the core sentiment and direction of her pairings remain the same: an emotionally-crippled Psy (with a different kind of power we’ve yet to learn about) vs. the wild-and-open-heart of a changeling that’s often growl and fight first, then reason later.
Ivan Merchant and Soleil Bijoux Garcia’s story is one of hits and misses at first, with their attraction and bond coming into play quite early on. But the return to Dark River was a bit of a surprise as well though it wasn’t exactly the full focus of the story; instead, Ivan’s mysterious background, his stunted powers and the disintegrating Psy-Net come to the fore, just as he resists the call of the mating bond that would bring Lei into his inner sanctum. Both ride the shockwaves following the catastrophe of the collapsing Psy-Net, while Lei comes alongside Ivan as he grapples with his powers and what he can unleash with them.
It isn’t to say that the book doesn’t have its usual faults that do tend to run through Singh’s books: the abstract explanations of the intricacy of Psy-Net that Singh does every time (which sometimes leads into an info-dump), chapters that start off in the present but confusingly flows into scenes and dialogues from the past, the subtle switching of POVs within a scene. What I do find frustrating perhaps, is the slow pace at which Singh seems to circle around the fallen Silence protocol and the ramifications that have been echoing through her past few books (and still continue to do so). More forward-momentum pushing through the overall arc would be welcome as well, along with the inclusion of not just Psy-Changeling pairings but also more characters (other tribes and clans and humans) that fall between the cracks whom I’ve always wanted to read about but were never developed.
‘Storm Echo’ ends with a typical cliffhanger following a revelation: that a threat awaits, that something lurks past the horizon of Ivan/Lei’s HEA, except that we’re not entirely sure how this might turn out in the end until the next book appears sometime next year. I do miss the more definitive endings to be honest, as the drawn-out bits and holding back of information do tend to get tiring after several years of suspense—as is seen in Singh’s style of writing. In all, yes, Ivan/Lei’s story is compelling and enjoyable enough, but not one that’s ultimately memorable.