Book Review: Echo North

Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when 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 ultimatum: If she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers 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, the rooms begin to disappear, and 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.

Published January 15th 2019 by Page Street Publishing Co.

Another gem I would have missed if it weren’t for someone nominating it in the YA Speculative Fiction category. You could say this is Beauty and the Beast retelling, or you could say it’s an East of the Sun, West of the Moon retelling. It, for sure, has elements of both, but don’t think you know this story without reading it. For a new book, it reads like a Norweigan fairy tale from a long time ago.
Echo’s father goes missing for weeks, so she goes in search of him and finds him frozen in the snow, she’s then approached by a wolf and asked if she would like to make a bargain: she can come live in the wolf’s house for a year in exchange for the magic to release her father so he can go home. The house is magical too, with rooms that can disappear, you can go inside paintings, etc. It’s spellbinding.
I’ve read a few Beauty and the Beast retellings this year, and this is my favorite because it goes further and more profound than just a reimagining of a familiar story. It has similarities, and then as a reader, you plunge into it like falling down a well. I suffered a bit of book hangover after I turned the last page. I’d buy this as a holiday gift for any 11-year-old kid on up through adult that needs a good fairy tale immersing book.

Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when 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 ultimatum: If she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

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