- Author: Victoria Benty
- Pre-Order Now (releases Feb. 20th)
- Synopsis: James, Adelina and Felicity, the surviving members of Epsilon’s royal family, prepare for Felicity’s coming-of-age ball, while tensions rise between the eldest and middle siblings.
- Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author. Opinions expressed are my own.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.Gal. 6:2
Although this is not necessarily the most obvious Scripture connection for Epsilon, I find it to be very fitting. The novel focuses strongly on the relationship between three siblings, and this verse is for siblings in the Lord. We see the characters seeking to bear each other’s burdens: Felicity in her concern for her brother; Adelina in her desire to care for the members of her community (who are, themselves, caring for her and taking on the role of adoptive family members).
Benty describes the book as an allegory, so I had certain presuppositions, going into the reading. As I read, I had a lot of trouble reconciling my understanding of allegory with the narrative I was reading. In fact, in my first draft of this post, I wrote, “This book is marketed as an allegory, but I wouldn’t use that descriptor.” However, upon further reflection, I see how the novel is an allegory— just not what I was expecting.
I was expecting the sort of allegory where there’s a clear and direct correspondence to biblical events/people. (And I was thrown off by the fact that God is represented by Alpha, the ruling dimension, which felt more like a pantheon to me). Rather than connecting the dots between the Bible and a narrative, Epsilon uses the story form to symbolically depict the struggle of grief—and how loss colors our relationship with God. And when I look at the story through that lens, I can appreciate its beauty, and I can also recognize why the author refers to it as allegory.
What I Liked
Epsilon was a fun read! I like reading about balls and pretty dresses, with sweet romance, so I enjoyed walking with Felicity in the days leading up to her birthday.
The story is told from the perspectives of three siblings: James, Adelina and Felicity. I feel that the shifting perspectives benefitted the pacing of the story, while also adding interest. I often read stories that alternate between the two romantic interests, but it was fun to read from the perspective of siblings. This also offered deeper insight into their relationships as siblings, as readers are able to encounter each character’s thoughts about their family members— and not just witness their familial interactions. On that note, I appreciate that the story, while featuring distinctive subplots, really focused on the sibling relationships. That’s not something I often read, but it does make for a beautiful story. (Plus, the focus on three siblings, instead of two, was fun and different).
Regarding the setting: We learn that there are a couple dozen “dimensions” in the story of the universe, and travel seems to occur through some sort of portals in special parts of dimensions. This is an intriguing concept! However, aside from a few lines here and there, the idea really isn’t tapped into, or even explained. There’s also a bit of a mystery thread with some characters who were experimenting with interdimensional travel, but this is not explained either. I was left wanting more, which would have worked well if this book was tied to others, but my understanding is that it’s basically a standalone. (It’s book two in the series but I was told that book one simply takes place in the same universe.)
I also have mixed feelings about the portrayal of Alpha. On one hand, I appreciate that this realm is shrouded in mystery, since there’s an obvious connection between Alpha and God. (For instance, Alpha maintains unquestioned authority; the “ambassadors” of Alpha serve their communities within cathedrals.) On the other hand, I was disappointed with the very little interaction we see between characters and Alpha itself, and I was confused by Alpha being an entire realm, presumably peopled with many beings.
This is very minor, but there were a few suggestive lines (between/about married couples).
Epsilon was an enjoyable read, with an interesting plot line and engaging characters. In my opinion, the plot very much steered the story— I would have liked to see a lot more development in terms of world building and untangling some of the hazier details. Still, it was a fun read, and the “allegorical” plot line made for a beautiful message.