Storm Echo by Nalini Singh
August 9, 2022, by Berkley
Review by Melinda and Melanie
Melanie: Melinda and I were super excited to get to read an ARC of this book together months before it was released. We’re obviously huge fans of Nalini Singh as well as the series as a whole. However, that being said, this was not our favorite book in this series, not even close. But look, it’s the 6th book in the spin off series, Psy-Changeling Trinity and if you count the original Psy-Changeling series, it’s book #21! There’s bound to be a few clunkers here and there. Without going into too many spoilery details, Melinda and I will break down why this book and specifically the central romance didn’t work for us.
Melinda: Melanie’s right, this wasn’t our favorite of Nalini’s books but all of them can’t be amazing! After so many books in the Psy/Changeling world we’ve seen pretty much every kind of combination of characters and romances. Storm Echo opens with Ivan Mercant, who we know in passing because of his family ties, stumbling across Lei, a changeling who is new to the series.
Ivan and Lei get to know each other over a very brief 3 days. They share some laughs, picnic together, and at the very end of their time share some serious truths with each other. Ivan essentially tells her about his mercenary side and he fears that she won’t return to him after this reveal. And then…she doesn’t.
This was all in the setup of Storm Echo, and for me, it was too brief to understand the connection Ivan feels to Lei. And my lack of connection to Lei and to their connection directly lead to the rest of my issues with the book later on.
Melanie: To say that the romance in this book feels rushed is an understatement. I would even go so far as to say the romance in this book isn’t even the real focus of the book. And maybe because so little time and attention is paid to the 2 MCs and their growing relationship, it leaves the readers (in this case, Melinda and myself) struggling to connect to the MCs, to the romance between them, to this apparently all-encompassing bond between them that, at least in my opinion, really just springs out of nowhere.
There is a bit of an insta-….something, I hesitate to label it lust OR love, that happens in the first section of the book, when Ivan and Lei first meet. After Lei disappears, a good 15 months pass before Ivan lays eyes on her again and the bond is still present. Now, part of that is due to events that took place right before Ivan lost track of Lei 15 months prior (I can’t delve too much into this as it would constitute a spoiler) but there really doesn’t seem to be a solid foundation for why there is such a strong emotional connection between these 2 characters who had all of 3 days together before they were separated. That’s not to say people can’t form a strong bond over the course of 3 days, just that in this particular story, I couldn’t really get a sense of the bond being created beyond being told it existed.
Melinda: I’ve definitely read books where I’ve believed and rooted for a romance that developed in an extremely short period of time. But, Melanie’s right in that I just didn’t get a good sense of the romance here in this 3 day time period. I think there wasn’t enough on the page time spent during these 3 days for this development to feel strong. There’s much we can’t say due to spoilers about the separation but when that bond is still there for Ivan, I was left to wonder why.
Beyond just the lack of a connection, the Psy/Changeling books work so well, and have gone on for so long, partly because Nalini Singh is a genius who has planned out overarching storylines. Each book generally has a romance plot and an overarching plot, and to me, this book suffered due to not being well balanced between the two. The PsyNet and its potential collapse, which has been building up over many books, felt like it took over the romance.
Melanie: If you’ve spent the last however many books wondering about the identity of The Architect – the main villain of the Trinity series, then you’ll definitely want to read this book as the ending is a real eye-opener. (I absolutely cannot say anymore – in fact, I’m terrified I’ve already said too much). However, this book does suffer from being way too heavily focused on the ongoing destruction and collapse of the PsyNet and the Scarab storyline that plays a huge role in this particular story, especially with Ivan and his particular Psy skillset. I’ll be honest, I’ve read the entire series, many of them twice, and I’m always far more interested in the relationships, romantic and otherwise, between the characters than I am in any of the PsyNet stuff. So for me, this book was a bit of a bore in that sense.
However, that’s not to say this book was completely without its charms. This is one of the first books in a long long time that returned the readers to DarkRiver territory, which is where the Psy-Changeling series first began all the way back in 2006! And given the setting, we were treated to a whole host of cameos from long-lost friends I’ve come to know and love over the course of the past 20 books. Personally for me, that was one of the biggest highlights of the book, these pop-ins from characters from books past, getting to see them and catch up with them. Aside from that, this was also a great story in terms of family bonds and pack loyalty, whether it’s the DarkRiver pack or the Mercant family. One of the most interesting aspects of the story was the way Nalini highlighted how much the DarkRIver changelings have in common with the Mercant family who are all Psy, despite their very obvious differences.
Melinda: Yes, getting to see old friends in DarkRiver, and a few others, was such a delight for me. This is always a highlight of the series, and one the author does so well, just sprinkling these appearances lightly throughout the books. My personal favorite was getting to see a bit more of Arwen Mercant. I hope he’s being set up for a book down the line, because I found him so delightful!
I think if you’re a reader who has been eager for answers on the PsyNet and Scarab plot, then this book will be for you. It will keep you on your toes the whole time with various revelations until the very end. However, if you’re a reader who is there mainly for the romance, and everything else is secondary, this might not be your favorite book in the series. But we can’t wait to see where Nalini goes with the next book.
Content warnings: mention of drug use in the past by secondary character, parental death in the past, car accident in the past, violence, murder, mention of attempted kidnapping in the past