By K.B. Hoyle
Darcy Pennington spent her freshman year agonizing over the sacrifice of her dear friend Yahto Veli, the nark who gave himself to the Oracle to set her free. But when she returns to Alitheia determined to rescue him, she soon comes to realize there's much more at stake than just the fate of her friend. Alitheia is in turmoil, and a new riddle from the Oracle hangs over their heads. The Six, the alchemist Rubidius, and Prince Tellius must set off on a sea voyage into the realm of a legendary archipelago to try and set things right. The foes they meet along the way are both deceptive and charming, and on board the ship, Darcy's heart and mind feel just as conflicted as the mysteries she has to solve. Darcy isn't sure if she's prepared for another meeting with the Oracle, but if she wants any chance of saving Yahto Veli, she must try.
The White Thread has always been and remains to be my favorite of The Gateway Chronicles by K.B. Hoyle. The night of its initial release, I waited hours after school until it popped up as available on Amazon. I didn't sleep a wink. Raging bibliophile that I am, I reread that book the next day on my computer while taking notes in classes, and nearly every day after of that year. Whether it's the grand voyage that harkens to Homer's Odyssey, the puzzles presented by another oracle, the growing complexity of the plot, or the budding romances—there is no one element that captured my heart above the others. You can only imagine, then, the pure joy and face-splitting grin I gained the second I realized K.B. Hoyle had added scenes to the book, scenes that center around a certain fan-favorite pairing. More on that later.
There is a marked difference between the Darcy of books one and two, and the Darcy we are presented here in The White Thread. She is the same at the core: intelligent, resourceful, fiercely independent, impulsive, maybe a little selfish. She is also wiser, respectful of the world she's entered and its inhabitants (even those she's previously clashed with), and actively seeking selflessness and the right path. The moment she steps through the gateway into Alitheia, we see her step up and truly claim her role as the leader of The Six for the first time in the series, a turning point in her life and a catalyst to her role. That said, at fifteen and one year off the Oracle's quest, she is still fallible and makes a few critical errors that impact her closest relationships. As the age-old saying goes, she took two steps forward, one step back.
Relationships play a pivotal role in The White Thread, more than ever before. The central conflict of the story, rescuing Yahto Veli, hinges tightly not only on Darcy's relationship and loyalty to Yahto Veli, but her relationship to Voitto Vesa, Rubidius, and Tellius. The six are still important, but now more than ever Darcy is tied to her Alitheian companions. She must earn their respect and trust and give it in return to have the slightest chance at rescuing her dear friend. The fact she rests triumphant in this task is fully satisfying to read, after witnessing all her foibles through the first two books. Rubidius and Darcy's relationships, in particular, meets a turning point from impatient, condescending teacher and impulsive, selfish pupil to one of budding mutual respect and even friendship. There is another relationship, however, that is even more pivotal to the story and one that has a firm tie around my heart.
Tellius, as a character, comes into his own during the course of this novel in a way the audience never glimpsed before. From a childish nuisance to a reluctant but still obnoxious ally, Tellius remained in the background for the first two novels while Darcy tried her best to avoid him. This all changes in The White Thread when he enters the scene of an age with the teenagers for once, poised, smiling instead of scowling and eager to start a proper friendship with Darcy now the impending threat of marriage is temporarily removed. He shares many of the same traits as Darcy: intelligent, independent, resourceful, but even at fourteen he has a gravity to his actions and words that none of the others possess. He's grown up a prince without a crown, orphaned in a gruesome way, with a kingdom cloaked in shadow and the expectation that he must sit and wait for six strangers to enter the land and fix it all for him.
These factors make him the most compelling character of the series, in my humble opinion. Even more so when his budding friendship with Darcy leads him to tease, play with swords, spot zephyras (a magical wind spirit) and share parts of his past and self that he's had to guard all his life, perhaps even from his younger brother and closest companion. Darcy, in turn, grows intrigued by him and protective as well, defending his actions or impulsivity a few times and checking him in his anger, just as he does for her. That's not to say they don't slip—they are fifteen, after all, and their friendship is new—but they build a foundation in The White Thread that is gorgeous, thrilling, tear-inducing and ripe for new additions in the coming novels. Without giving too much away, Hoyle added two scenes (in addition with tweaking others) to the end of the novel that caused me to squeal like that sixteen-year-old girl all over again. Hands and foreheads pressed through barriers, fiercely protective embraces, teasing and the truest, quiet sentiment shine in those scenes and I may have to end this review now so I can go read them again for the hundredth time.
The White Thread is a work of art, hitting upon the heart of the series, parts of the prophecy, answering former riddles and creating ten more questions in their wake. It's a puzzle within a puzzle, more light-hearted while also having two of the darkest scenes in the series to date and briefly introducing a new and terrifying villain. The relationships between characters deepen and, best of all, a romance you didn't even know you needed plants itself in both the characters' and audience's hearts until you're left ready to perish at the end for anticipation of The Enchanted. Alitheia is no longer a trip, it is a reality. Are you ready to dive in?
10 out of 10 Magpies (realistically 100000)