Review: Ethera Grave by Essa Hansen


Read a review of Book 1, NOPHEK GLOSS
Buy Ethera Grave HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Essa Hansen grew up in beautifully wild areas of California, from the coastal foothills to the Sierra Nevada mountains around Yosemite, before migrating north to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. She has ranched bison and sheep, trained horses, practiced Japanese swordsmanship, and is a licensed falconer. She lives with her cat in the San Francisco Bay Area.

As a sound designer for SF and fantasy films, her credits can be found on IMDB.

Ethera Grave released on July 18th, 2023 by Orbit Books. It is told in third person from multiple POVs, including Caiden, Leta, Abriss, and Threi. It is available in paperback and ebook formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Time is running out for the multiverse. For millennia, existence has been made up of countless small universes existing side by side, each with their own laws of physics and unique beings and materials. But the powerful being Abriss believes the future lies in creating one cohesive whole universe by destroying the boundaries that make up the multiverse – even if that means countless species incompatible with changing physics are wiped out in an instant. Caiden and his allies have one last desperate gamble as Abriss’s reach draws closer: unlocking his dormant Graven genetics in the hope of making Caiden powerful enough to stand in her way.

Ethera Grave
is a slow march to a beautiful finale, one that eschews action for contemplation. This is a book that demands patience. As horror unfolds and a seemingly unstoppable wave of destruction creeps ever closer, our heroes are wrapped up in long goodbyes and introspection about their lives. To top it all off, we dip in and out of the lives of beings of vast consciousness who are intrinsically tied into this immense power struggle, who don’t perceive life the same way mere mortals do. This book deals with the fate of existence on a scale so grand, it can be hard to wrap your head around.

I admit, I struggled quite a bit with Ethera Grave, particularly in the middle of the book when all hope seems lost and a Hail Mary plan unfolds. I am a person who generally likes Things to Happen, and that is not what Ethera Grave is about. While I will fully give credit to the clever and (eventually) emotional way this tale tied everything together across space and time, you have to be willing to wade through nearly 200 pages of slow progress to get there. Along the way, there are a whole host of heady philosophical debates around such things as death versus stagnation or harmony through collective thought vs. creativity through individuality.

CONCLUSION: The Graven series has always been one to be unapologetically big and bold in its ambitions, with some truly unique world-building that lives squarely in the middle of all things unfamiliar. Perhaps that’s why at times it was difficult to hang on to the plot; when everything is new and foreign to you, it can be hard to find points to latch onto for connection. But in the final moments of the book, when everything mattered, I did find that I had built a fondness for these characters, and that I could be moved by their fates. While Ethera Grave was too slow for me personally, I can’t help but admire what it accomplished in its own unique fashion: to be wholly original in all things.

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