Echo North is an enchanting story about the importance of stories, forgiveness, and love.
Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart after her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an offer: for her to come and live with him for a year. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.
In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, Echo discovers centuries-old secrets, a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up—otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Echo North is a book which I thought the first half was good, and the second half was even better. It’s one of those books where a single revelation makes you re-think the whole story and you almost want to start over from the beginning. Echo is a sympathetic character. In many ways she’s the good girl of the story who was disfigured by a wolf attack. And in an almost Beauty and the Beast scenario, she goes to live with said wolf to save her father’s life. But there Echo realizes that nothing is what it seems.
Echo North is a retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” and seems to incorporate all these other threads from stories. But what I adored about the latter half of the book, was that all these seeds and relationships took on a whole new light. Echo North is for those who love stories and a love that can cut through illusions.
Stories & Love
It’s hard to fully talk about all the things I enjoyed about Echo North without completely spoiling the surprise. And I wouldn’t because it is just so delightful and satisfying. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about the book from the beginning because it seems very similar than many of the fairy tales I grew up with, but once I got to around the middle part of the novel, I was hooked. Echo North celebrates the power of stories. Not only through a magical library room, but also the power of stories as inspiration. There’s a lesson to be learned, a message to be heard, and hope to be found.
Not to mention, Echo’s character is entirely sympathetic. The reception of her scars convinces Echo that she is lesser. That she isn’t deserving of love, that those, when they see her, will see she is unworthy. Echo’s perception of inner beauty and outwards appearance is something that is in a lot of these fairy tales. The idea that ugliness mirrors our soul. And so her journey is something that is extremely relatable and familiar to many growing up with stories like that.
But, at the same time, what I also enjoyed about Echo North is that it doesn’t hide its scars. It doesn’t hide the betrayal, the lies, the deceptions. Often at the end, there’s this happily ever ending that forgets to mention all these lies. The times the characters stole and cheated. But Echo North deals with the fall out. The consequences, the raw feelings of betrayal.
Echo North is delightful. It isn’t your typical re-telling. It takes elements I was familiar with and combines them to create this almost eerie re-telling meets romance story. There are multiple stories and once you get to the big reveal you’ll fall in love with the added layer of complexity. Echo North is a story that asks us what we can do to save the ones we love and who we can trust. It is also a story about the different forms of monstrosity. Of the ways we can let it change us, or the ways we let it control us.