Frederik Peeters‘ surreal sci-fi saga takes a nightmarish feel in Aama Vol. 3: The Desert of Mirrors. When we last left the wise-cracking layabout Verloc and robotic ape Churchill, Verloc had just recounted the moment when he, Churchill and the rest of the search party continue to discover just how far gone the biotech experiment Aama in its full state of chaotic freedom. Now, the adventure continues as Verloc slowly begins to uncover just how far gone Aama is from its original purpose, and just how a perfect replica of his daughter is in existence with him when she should be a whole planet away with her mother.
The Desert of Mirrors lives up to its name, as the majority of this instalment sees our motley crew of scientists and wasters traipsing across the desert landscapes of Ona(ji) and experience a Pink Floyd-level of hallucinogenic environments and daydream-worthy monsters. Additionally, we’re finally given some tantalizing hints at the where’s and why’s about Aama, as it appears the loss of control over Aama isn’t just affecting Verloc and company. It appears to be a very human source behind the horrors of Aama, a gentleman who fleetingly appears for a few pages and who truly seems out of his depth. A corporate individual appears before him informing him that they have gone behind hid back and are ready to nip Aama in the bud while they still can, but the gentleman insists that they shan’t be able to handle what they find on Ona(ji).
The Desert of Mirrors features little in the way of genuine plot, but that’s partly why it works. Creating a story spread over four books of almost 100 pages each gives way to a tense, slow-burning manner of story-telling, which makes Aama Vol. 3: The Desert of Mirrors a terrifyingly intoxicating read. Everything is far more bizarre and personal than the first two chapters, The Smell of Warm Dust and The Invisible Throng. By the time you reach the last page of this third episode, Verloc’s character becomes colder and more resolute than he was pre-memory loss. The Desert of Mirrors appears to finally draw Verloc’s trip down memory lane to a close, as he’s now finally caught up with the events that have taken place. His memory isn’t any better, but his persona has changed.
The events of Ona(ji), whether he remembers them or not, have had a profound effect on him, and we can only wait with bated breath as to what he and Churchill will find once the fourth and final chapter in this devilishly wonderful series is released. Aama Vol. 3: The Desert of Mirrors is a captivating read, and yet another powerful weapon in the arsenal of publisher SelfMadeHero.