By Joanna Ruth Meyer
The first quarter of Echo North was wonderful and had me captivated as everything was setting up, but the rest of the book was up and down for me. I wanted to fall in love with this book, but it turned out to be just an okay read for me.
The story begins with Echo, a young girl who lost her mother at birth and now lives with her father and brother. After attempting to help a wolf in a trap escape, Echo is attacked and her face is permanently scared. She’s treated differently because of her scars and ends up working in her father’s bookshop with little belief in herself. After being reunited with the wolf who attacked her, she agrees to live in his magical house for one year which will spare her father’s life. The wolf intends for her to be the new ‘keeper’ of the house because he’s dying and there is no one to tend to it. Echo wishes to find a way to save his life as she struggles to help keep the house from unbinding, with more rooms disappearing each day.
“Everyone is searching for their true selves. But everyone hides their true selves from each other. Look for the truth. If you find it, you will see through the enchantment.”
I love retellings and did feel the similarities (although subtle) to Beauty and the Beast and East of the Sun and West of the Moon, but the book had some definite uniqueness to it. I can say with certainty that I haven’t read a book with a library of enchanted ‘book mirrors’ in it before, where you enter a mirror and become part of the story within in, visiting all different sorts of book-worlds, all containing different adventures. The idea is unique to me and what I found most interesting in the tale. I also had questions throughout the story with certain parts that were puzzling, but appreciated that everything was nicely wrapped up by the end of the book.
Something I didn’t love about the tale was how Echo was treated poorly by the village people due to the scars on her face, as if she were plagued with some horrible disease. It really does damage her character. It seemed as though her brother was the only one that actually believed in her. I did appreciate their close family relationship with their father though. It was parts like these that reminded me of Robin McKinley’s Beauty because that close family bond was something I was drawn to in that retelling as well. Echo’s character is flawed, but she really blossoms throughout the book as she begins to understand true beauty and just how important she is.
“If others cannot see your true self, if they refuse to see it— that is a flaw in their own character. Not in yours.”
The writing here is beautiful, lush, and descriptive; it’s hard not to appreciate this book. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough going on to fully keep my interest and I didn’t have a whole lot of connection to the characters by the end of the story. I had to push through the slower parts, especially where the story was drawn out at times. I was very pleased with the ending though, and extremely thankful for the epilogue.
I did still enjoy this tale and I’m happy to have read it. If you like retellings, give this one a try.
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Page Street Kids (January 15, 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1624147151
- ISBN-13: 978-1624147159
- Genre: Young Adult Fiction
This is book #4 for the Retellings Reading Challenge. If you’d like to see my progress, you can click here.
Thanks for reading my review. Have you read this book? Let’s chat in the comment’s section. Happy reading!