Kieli is an isolated girl in a world where everything is controlled by the Church of a God she doesn’t believe in. Driving and complicating her views and life is her odd ability to see ghosts. However her world expands rapidly after she meets Harvey, one of the legendary Undying. Perfect soldiers from the last great war made from lost technology, Harvey and his ilk are of no further use to Church or State and continually hunted. Tagging along with Harvey’s travels, Kieli finds their next destination is across the great ocean…
White Wake on the Sand is a complete story, and the opening illustrated color pages do a phenomenal job of summarizing previous events and key concepts. However this series is extremely character driven, and experiencing the nuances of their interactions adds significant depth to everything. I’d highly recommend starting with volume 1 (The Dead Sleep in the Wilderness).
The Dead Sleep in the Wilderness was an excellent, melancholy story about two complex, compelling leads in a fascinating world. White Wake on the Sand capitalizes wonderfully on the strong start and is just as powerful and captivating. The atmosphere gets creepier and more intense here, something that I can see continuing in later books. New characters and story threads are integrated seamlessly and enhance the book without overwhelming the reader.
The author has an incredibly deft touch with rationing little details and playing with expectations. It allows for tremendous world building that’s vivid and evocative while also being gradual and unobtrusive most of the time. The imagination on display in the particular’s of the environment and social structure and the subtle way it’s all conveyed to the reader without disrupting the narrative is just amazing.
I also adore the way the ghost story aspects are handled in this series. Important themes are touched on and the particulars of the ghost encounters always matter to both character and plot development. Another nice touch is how Kieli’s confusion of ghosts and real people is sometimes used to both progress the plot and heighten suspense.
The Kieli series continues to find unique ways to explore heavy, melancholy themes in stories that are also extremely entertaining and engaging. Highly recommended.
Overall though I found The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria a thoroughly engaging and satisfying read, and highly recommend it for any light novel fans who can handle its mystery/thriller aspects and don’t mind applying some patience and effort to their reading.