(Beware of spoilers, for they be plentiful below.)
The concluding entry in Chris Philbrook’s Kinless trilogy, The Echoes of Sin, does a massive amount of worldbuilding. It reminds me a bit of Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire series, wherein after being taken on a wild journey through a fantastical world, we learn that it’s actually some kind of post-apocalyptic vision of Europe. Whereas Lawrence loosely explains it as a result of science growing too powerful for its own quantum britches, Philbrook leaves the gap between the “fall” and era of the story unfilled.
I burn with curiosity as to the nature of the fall. I hope, nay, pray that he dig into it in some future date. The word ‘trilogy’ fills me with dread, however, that this story is done and that I’ll never find out more about the fascinating world Philbrook has built, where human souls manifest as spirits and the talented can speak to the souls of machines and inanimate objects.
Now that my plea for more information is out of the way, let’s talk about The Echoes of Sin. We find the twins on the run with their compatriots, having been accused of the murder of their aunt—the one who orchestrated the inciting events of the trilogy. But they’ve got bigger fish to fry. They’re on their way to uncover the biggest secret in the world, the thing that pivoted the course of history for the planet, the cataclysm whose echoes ripple throughout the world and the hundreds of years that have elapsed.
Meanwhile, the purple queen (of the empire that took center-stage in the first book) is at the border with an army of zombies and necromancers who are prepared to steamroll over an ill-equipped town that blocks their path. The tension ramps up more rapidly in this book than in the previous two, but that makes sense, given the threads that need addressing in the story, but the pacing works well.
The heroes get the more immediately compelling of the two plots, fighting a group of vampires with an intriguing connection to the Church of Souls—they were left by the twins’ aunt to protect the secret that the others were killed over. The fighting is tense, the sides find compromise and, eventually, the heroes are lead to the heart of the secret: a gateway to the past.
It’s a must-read if you’ve read the other two. And since you should read the other two, I suppose I’m saying you’ve got to read this one.
There are some excellent twists in The Echoes of Sin, and narrator Kevin T. Collins did an admiral job of bringing the book to life in a way that raised my heart rate at the right times, and personified the whole cast well. As was the case with the previous books, I found his narration a bit slow, but thankfully I was able to easily speed it up to my comfort level.
Before signing off, I want to return to the thought that opened this review. I was being cheeky about it up there, but the message is that the ending of The Echoes of Sins leaves more questions asked than answered. This might frustrate you—it frustrated me a bit—but I think that frustration also falls under the purview of emotions authors may want to elicit in a reader. If you’re reading this, Chris Philbrook, I’d love to know if you did that to me on purpose. Either way, you wrote an excellent trilogy.