Omorphi brought us lessons of strength. Tharros showed us the qualities of courage and perseverance. And Elpida brings us the message of hope. Always hope.
Of the three books in this series, Elpida is my favorite. I loved Ómorphi and Thárros, but Elpída was a remarkable gelling of all the story elements: the characters, their backgrounds and experiences and how they came to be the people they are, who did what to whom, and why. It also brings home the lasting effects of the evil that abusers perpetrate on their victims and the daily struggle victims go through to hold on to their new life and their ever-fragile hope. Cody Kennedy gives us a never-before-seen glimpse inside the complex psyche of the abused child and the four lives they must construct in order to survive: the secret you, the “normal” you, the real you, and the you created and shown to your abusers.
With the arrival of Timotheos at Wellington, we get an in-depth look into what Christy’s life was like before he was rescued. Having Thimi with him is, in many ways, a double-edged sword for Christy. He is so very thankful and relieved to find his “little brother” alive, yet seeing Thimi struggle in his new life and surroundings brings back all the memories Christy has tried so hard to master. It is very humbling and heartbreaking to see how a happy event like being reunited with a loved one can trigger nightmares and terrors anew—to see Christy breaking all over again—the terror more horrifying than ever before. Also how small everyday things we take for granted like roasting marshmallows can be a trigger… the innocent childhood pleasures of life, forever tainted by evil monsters who steal the very soul of a child.
Throughout the story, Christy struggles with worry and concern over Thimi adapting to his new environment as well as questioning how Michael could possibly love someone as damaged as he. He also worries that spending so much time with Thimi, away from Michael, will adversely affect his and Michael’s relationship. After such horrific abuse, he has a hard time wrapping his mind around how someone like Michael could cross his path, bringing “love and kindness and safety.” And a hard time hanging on to the new life he has built for himself. The memories that Thimi’s arrival triggers threaten to pull him under once again. And the ultimate heartbreaking moment is seeing Christy utterly shatter in the chilling confrontation with Michael.
In Thárros, we saw a crack in Michael’s perfect veneer as he experiences trouble controlling his rage at what Christy has endured—a normal reaction for caring people to experience when they discover that such evil exists in the world. In Elpída, Michael struggles to be Christy’s rock while denying and stuffing down his own terror at almost losing Christy. He also struggles with other very human emotions—jealousy and self-recrimination for being jealous of the time Christy spends with Thimi. His jealousy leads him to a very dark place, nearly causing him the loss of the most precious piece of his heart. His only saving grace being his parents, Bobbie and Mac, who provide him with stern, albeit unsolicited, guidance, advice, and constant reminders of who he really is; as well as, Jake, his steadfast friend who is never shy about setting Michael straight when the situation calls for it.
Did I mention there’s also a mystery? Yes, there is, and it is folded neatly throughout the book and keeps the story moving at a nice pace. Get this book… get this series. It’s a wonderful story with heartrending depth of emotion, life-affirming courage and hope, and the best-developed cast of characters I have ever had the pleasure to experience. Within these pages, you will find laughter, you will find tears, you will despair and rage at the evil that exists, but above all else, at the end of the journey, you will find hope—elpída. This series has a permanent place on my OMG shelf.