CHASM by Stacey McEwan (BOOK REVIEW)
All things find a way back home…
Chasm is the sequel to Stacey McEwan’s bestselling debut Ledge, in which we met Dawsyn as she escaped her dangerous prison-like home and fell in love with a half human hybrid whose kind kept her people trapped there.
Ledge was a page-burning enemies-to-lovers romance adventure that ended on a heart-breaking cliff-hanger, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Chasm, and was enormously grateful to be sent such an early copy!
I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers for the two books, so I shall tread carefully across the ice…
Things are still looking bleak and desperate at the onset for Dawsyn. In the clutches of her enemies, she must turn her mind to freedom once more; not just for herself, but those she left behind on the Ledge, whose existence is a continuous source of guilt and pain for our protagonist. Having learned the truth of how and why they were left there, Dawsyn must now find new allies to aid her bring the people home. But this actually requires her to trust other people, and past experience has taught her just how tricky a business that can be.
As I said in my review of Ledge, as much as the romance plays a big part in these stories, there is so much more going on, and it was the case once more in Chasm. This is still very much a story of the battle for survival in a harsh and unforgiving world. This time round, however, the battles were all much more internal affairs. Mistrust and betrayal are the enemies stalking our heroes, ready to break them at any moment.
This was a much more emotionally fraught read; our characters face a number of inner demons and must confront a lot of issues about themselves, as well as their relationships with those around them. Each page then was loaded with tension and emotion. Dawsyn has, understandably, got an awful lot to be angry about, and a large part of this story was her confronting this and learning to come through the other side. Learning to distinguish between anger, and fear, and allowing herself to feel something new.
Some things ought not to be brought our and inspected. Some stones should remain unturned.
So that you can continue to run from yourself? some invasive thought asks. And there it is once more, this slowly expanding awareness in some forgotten crevice, deep in her mind.
I found McEwan’s approach to this self-exploration respectful and tender, and thorough. She gives Dawsyn time to come to terms with her trauma, to explore her emotions without having to rush through them. We delve much more deeply into the characters this time, and as such was more of a slow-burn, character-driven read than Ledge.
We had more characters to get to know this time round too, as people who were merely side-characters previously were brought into the fold this time and Dawsyn’s circle widens. The made Beltisse steps to the fore and with her came the opportunity to learn much more about McEwan’s magic system, which I really enjoyed. Another aspect I loved was how much more history and lore we’re treated to. I found it particularly clever how McEwan has curated our experience of her world in line with Dawsyn’s so that we learn together. It’s a brilliant way of avoiding the dreaded Info Dump, and instead is a much more organic process.
Chasm is a deeper read than her sister, plumbing new depths of her characters. Some questions are answered, but as all good Second Books do, they merely raise more questions and mysteries. The question of what is the Chasm and how can they overcome it draws you through the book, but as I’m discovering with the Glacian Trilogy, finally knowing isn’t enough. What Dawsyn is going to do with that knowing is the question that will bring me back for Book 3.
Chasm is expected for release from Angry Robot on 12th September 2023