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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Echo’s 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, including a history she can’t remember. In his enchanted house, Echo discovers centuries-old secrets, a magical library filled with books-turned-mirrors, and a 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 it’s too late—otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever…

Echo North

by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Overall Book Review:

I’ve been hearing the idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” ever since I was a kid. And while at first, I thought Echo North’s cover was boring, I came to realize how elegantly it portrays the story behind it. At first glance the cover is simple: a purplish background overlaid with some designs in white. And in a way, that’s representative of the story: a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, a Norwegian fairy-tale which shares its roots, and many similarities, with Beauty and the Beast. But when you look more closely at the cover you can see the layers of nuance. After glancing at the title, your eyes are drawn by the two wolves near the top of the cover. They’re strange wolves, almost hyena-like, and it doesn’t take much imagination to see them as creatures twisted by enchantment, forced towards each other by something they cannot control. These wolves are startlingly representative of the main characters of the story, a scarred girl commonly viewed as cursed and the enchanted wolf who disfigured her. To take the comparison one step further, you can see that the wolves are trapped by the trees that rise along the sides of the cover – trees fittingly symbolic of the story’s antagonist. After the wolves, the next eye-catching image on the cover is the book laid out beneath the title. While this could stand for several themes within the story, I like to think this image is an emblem of the book’s magical library; a library where the anyone can step into a book of their choice and participate in the story. And finally, I want to mention the font of the title itself. The word “Echo” is adorned with a deft curlicue, which hints at the depths and complexity of the main character, Echo.

While this was a well-written book all around, Echo made the story stand out. She is a courageous young woman determined to do right by those she loves no matter the cost to herself. She has internal struggles she must deal with, caused both by her own insecurities and the faults in the people around her, but she is a well-crafted main character. So, can a book be judged by its cover? This one, I believe, should be. An excellent main character, beautifully written prose, and a strong dash of unique magic make this a retelling worth reading.  

Content Analysis

Profanity/Language: 6 religious exclamations; 3 mild profanities

Violence/Gore: Brief description of an animal caught in a trap; a child is attacked by a wolf, little detail; a character nearly freezes to death; character accidentally cuts herself on glass; character is attacked by magic; brief description of an animal eating a rabbit; characters fight resulting in a serious injury which is briefly described; characters fight magical animals; brief description of corpses; character hits another; multi-page scene where a character physically and emotionally tortures other characters with magic, mentions of blood; a character has a dream where a character’s throat is slit and another character is dying; a character participating in a story burns alive, no detail; character participates in stories where they observe violence they know is not real including: a character slits another’s throat; few mentions of soldiers, blood and violence, no detail; characters are sentenced to die; a character’s ear is cut off; monsters attack and capture a character; a character is violently killed.

Sex/Nudity: A widower remarries; characters flirt and dance closely; characters flirt, hold hands, and a character makes excuses to be close to another; character thinks about kissing another; characters hold hands; characters kiss and a character proposes marriage to another; characters are attracted to each other; 3 instances characters embrace; 4 instances characters kiss; 3 instances where characters declare love for each other.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death of parent; physical disfiguration; debt; divorce.

Alcohol/Drug Use:

Medicinal brandy is administered; characters drink wine.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I was homeschooled from kindergarten to grade 10, which gave me a love for reading. Growing up books were an integral part of my life, and I’ve always been able to make time to read. I’m most widely read in YA fiction, but fantasy is becoming my favorite genre. My free time not spent reading is mostly spent outdoors camping, riding a bicycle, or otherwise enjoying nature. I’m also a science nerd with a special interest in entomology.