She finds the perfect place to get away from them, an old cottage, with a ghostly presence, which draws her in but frightens her at the same time. As she chats to her friend Avril on the internet, another person enters the chatroom, whom only Jess is aware of. At times there seems to be so much going on that the story gets a little lost — so many symbols, codes, myths, parallel dreams, time-slips — making the narrative slightly muddled and hard to follow. This does however make for a very challenging read for the armchair sleuth, for this is a very Da Vinci Code style of mystery thriller.
The kind of book to be read with pleasure several times, in order to work out all the clues.
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The paper is a sketch of her, sitting in her attic bed, reaching out for her globe lamp, and also a diary page written by a boy called Sebastian Wren. The diary page is apparently what she saw Sebastian writing in her dream before he went down the cottage, and in it he talks about just having a dream himself about a girl who follows a flute down to the cottage Jess.
He talks about her nose ring being a sign of the 'Borus, which Jess does not understand, and also that Epsilon has told him to write the diary. He signs it, using the words "as Agapetos is my witness", and the date, Jess is bewildered, but realises the words a "followed sound" mean the flute music, and the "mirrored dream" is what she and Sebastian have just experienced: "I drew him, just as he looked when he woke after dreaming of me.
He drew me, just as I looked when I woke from a dream about him.
The next day Jess falls ill, and her Mum, concerned, gives her the belemnite she found, which Jess does not appreciate - " Oh wow. A baby stone carrot. Why can't she give me a CD like other mums? Parker, also comes to check her over, and tells her that it is probably just running about in the heatwave, and that even in the early mornings when she goes out she must be careful. She spills out all her woes to Dr. Parker, but feels protective when he picks up the bucket off her windowsill, and feels like something is flowing out of it.
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He invites her to his garden party, the Greet, next week, and leaves, but when Jess checks the bottom of the bucket again, the base is bare - Epsilon's name and symbol have gone. In the chatroom, Jess works out that V is actually Epsilon, as he gives her the riddle "V is a letter that is not a letter".
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The letter V actually corresponds to the Roman numeral 5, E is the fifth letter of the alphabet, and in Greek the letter "E" is called "Epsilon". Epsilon tells her that her mother is in danger, and that she shouldn't trust Dr.
He also tells her that someone evil is watching her, whom he calls the "Eye of Miradel". Jess becomes exasperated with him and leaves the chat room.
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She later goes down to the cottage, where she spots the tall, dark man again. She opens one of the drawers in the desk, to find 3 boxes, only the first of which she can open. In it she finds another diary page from Sebastian. He has discussed the girl he saw in his dream Jess with Epsilon, and the whole village is getting ready for the Greet.
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His mother is behaving strangely, collecting hundreds of shells from the beach, which she has dumped in his father's hollyhocks, which has made him angry; Epsilon has warned Sebastian to look after her. Epsilon also warns him that this ballad is not all it seems and gives him the clue "V then V then V then V", which Sebastian does not understand. He has also heard his mother singing this ballad in the middle of the night, which worries him. Jess reads the ballad and cannot understand what Epsilon means about it, as it seems perfectly innocuous.
She was appalled at this, and went on the greatest, biggest adventure of her life, to save her mother, and herself, and destroy the evil beings. The novel deals with the ideas of good and evil found in most fantasy fiction, whilst also blurring the lines between the two and asking questions about whether evil is easy to identify. Family discord and the importance of family is another key theme, as is the importance of courage. The novel also has a preoccupation with the passage and nature of time. The Riddles of Epsilon received many positive reviews on its publication in Those reviews criticising elements of the novel have tended to focus on its dark atmosphere, complicated plot development and the use of a diary device through which to tell the story.
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