Saturday, May 4, 2019

Book Review: Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Echo North
Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer
Publication: Page Street Kids (January 15, 2019)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: ECHO NORTH was a lyrical and imaginative fairy tale retelling. With elements from East of the Sun, West of the Moon and Tam Lin with lashings of Beauty and the Beast, Echo Alkaev goes to great lengths for her white wolf.

After a wolf attack when she was a child, she lived a quiet life in her father's bookshop since she was bullied and reviled whenever she went out in public. Her father meets a woman and decides to marry her but he hasn't picked a good woman. Her constant demand for things is pushing her father into bankruptcy and causes him to go off to sell his last items of value. He is gone for six months before Echo finds himself injured in the woods.

A white wolf offers to send him home if Echo will agree to spend a year with him at his home. Seeing no other way to save her father, Echo agrees and her adventure begins. She learns that the wolf is under a curse set by the Wolf Queen and Echo has to agree to let him spend the night with her every night but to never light a lamp and look at him. During the day, they explore the house and Echo learns to bind the rooms together.

Echo's favorite room in the library which is filled with mirror-books. She can jump into any story. She meets two other readers as she explores the stories. Mokosh is the one who tells her the rules of stories but it is Hal who intrigues her more and who she falls in love with. She learns that he is trapped in the mirror-books and has few memories of anything but the stories.

As the year comes near its end, rooms begin disappearing and her quest to find a way to help the wolf and free Hal from the mirror-books gets even more intense. She comes to know that Hal and the wolf are the same. Bad advice from Mokosh has her lighting a lamp and looking at the wolf turned Hal just hours before he would have been free.

Echo vows to find him and free him from the Wolf Queen which is where the resemblance to Tam Lin kicks in. She needs to journey to a magical land and is lucky to have a storyteller/guide who was once the North Wind but gave up his powers because he fell in love.

This was a beautiful story filled with wonderful images and lyrical prose. I enjoyed it very much.

Favorite Quote:
I held him like the world had spun away beneath me, and I was left to dance with the stars, not mortal any longer but a creature made of moonlight and magic. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.


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