The Pentrals by Crystal Mack
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
THE Low Down...
Do you ever get that feeling that someone or something is watching you, even when you know you are completely alone? What if someone were to tell you that aren't actually alone? That someone really IS always watching you? Though most do not know it, that is the reality of life for the residents to Talline, a city built of glass and mirrors surrounded by towering red rock canyon walls, where every shadow and reflection is in fact it's own sentient being. These "Pentrals" are former People, who have sworn themselves to a "life" of observation without interaction in hopes of gaining redemption for past crimes and indiscretions. May it be as vibrant reflection or a gray scale shadow, they must focus their energy on remaining true to their person's essence. Antares is one such Shadow, having spent the past 17 years serving as Violet's shadow since the day she was born. Once a vibrant, loving and creative young girl, Violet's 17th birthday and a tragic life-changing event have sent her spiraling into herself, cutting herself off from those she loves and making drastic choices that leave Antares at a loss for what is to become of Violet's once seemingly bright future. In an act of fury Antares did not know she was even capable of, or does not understand how she even accomplished it, she turns both of their worlds upside down. Despite the heavy consequences that she thinks must be impending though, Antares' love for Violet and duty to serve her Person compel her to help Violet get back on track. Unbeknownst to both of them though, their separate paths to redemption to will uncover more layers of their world than either of them thought possible.
MY Low Down...
I will be the first to admit that anything in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy realm needs to grab me right away or I will probably never finish. This one toed the line, but caught me just in time and did not let go. Using the unique perspective of a person's shadow rather than that of the actual person, the perception of the world is thrown askew, essentially forcing one to paint their own picture of the story from a perspective they are not used to. From there, the city of mirrors creates a world where one cannot escape their own reflection, a constant reminder of their outward appearance. Through these mediums, Violet, Antares and others are forced to face the role that appearances play in one's feelings of self-worth, and how those feelings can be manipulated. How do you know that what you see in the mirror is what others see? Will you ever be able to know the difference? Who has the power to control such things? These are questions that can and should come up in the "real" world, and Crystal Mack uses a unique and very creative approach to bring them to light.
There were a few areas that were a bit lacking such as general character development and a bit of a cliche in the villain-figure department, but the overall story construction, writing and creativity were deserving of praise. While I certainly would have liked to feel at least a little more connected to the characters, I was connected to their story and as the first in a series, there is plenty of room for growth as the story progresses.
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