Echoes from the Lost Ones

Echoes from the Lost Ones (Song of Forgetfulness #2)Echoes from the Lost Ones by Nicola J. McDonagh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Echoes from the Lost Ones: Song of Forgetfulness is dystopian done right. Although dystopian fiction is not my go-to, must-read genre I do appreciate a masterpiece when it comes across my desk. This story is one such masterpiece, reminiscent of an Escher painting that ever draws the eye as the brain searches and seeks to map out the complexities of his art.

Ms. McDonagh tells a fast-paced, action-packed tale set in a future so mangled and changed by time and human intervention and war that it is scarce recognizable called NotSoGreatBritAlbion. Through the main character Adara’s point of view we are introduced to a world of Citydwellers whose existence is dependent upon rationed supplies provided by a militant governing faction of people known only as the Agros. Adara is a Citydweller, having fled the Cityplace of her home in search of her brother Deogol whom has been kidnapped by the Agros. As she sets out on her quest to find him she encounters a lively and growing cast of compatriots, starting with Wirt the Nearlyman, a member of an outcast tribe of teenage boys and adult men, all of whom are Wooddwellers. It is with them that we learn of Adara’s unique abilities, and that she is not the only one with seemingly supernatural abilities.

After a violent encounter with the Nearlymen and Manlymen Adara and Wirt flee to the Ladies whom are more than they appear to be. Aided by the Ladies Adara and Wirt are sent on a quest that takes them into the Beyondness that in description harkens to thousands of years of warfare, death and desolation. In the Beyondness, where no souls go for fear of mutant Clonies of all sorts or catching the virus that decimated the population and caused such mutations, Adara and Wirth meet a S.A.N.T. named Eadgard, a Backpacker whom has been sent to escort them and provide security. Confused but willing to accept his expertise on the dangers of the Beyondness Adara and Wirt accompany him through the dark and foreboding landscape where they are soon waylaid by a snarling pack of mutant wolfies under the control of a duo of Clonies. Much mystery and rumor surrounds the Clonies including cannibalism.

The story continues on as such with the adventures of Adara and Wirt increasing in importance and reveals itself to be, like the Ladies, more than it appears to be.

What really drew me in was the surprisingly eloquence of the language both used as the first person narrative and spoken by the Adara and growing cast of characters. While truncated and often reduced to rudimentary there is a wonderful fluidity and shocking presence of vocabulary even in the characters one would assume have the least amount of formal education, if any. To some this may prove a detractor but for this reader it added an element of plausibility. I enjoyed how McDonagh has broken down and restructured the system of spoken language to illuminate thousands of years of evolutionary changes while still being able to communicate the basic elements of humanity – civility and good-will.

I have only one note to the negative (and this may be due solely to my having converted the digital document from a pdf to an e-pub for greater reading ease): but the text was continually interrupted by what appeared to be a header with the book’s title, author and page number. The first few times I ran into this it was a detractor and pulled me out of the story when I was deeply engrossed in it. Eventually I just trained my eye to see it and skip past it but there were quite a few sentences that dead-ended in the header and then continued on after a few lines. I recommend some formatting tweaks to make the reading experience flawless.

New to McDonagh’s works this story has me craving more. Echoes from the Lost Ones: Song of Forgetfulness is a delicious appetizer, serving only to whet the appetite while the entrée cooks.

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