Echo Alkaev is a young woman who was scarred by a wolf as a young girl, and whose life from that point was shaped by this encounter. The people in her town isolate and bully her for her scars, saying she's been marked by the devil. Her only real comfort is in her father and brother, and in books; as she grows, she tends her father's bookstore and reads everything she can. This routine is disrupted when her father remarries, ultimately leading her towards re-encountering that wolf from her childhood and being drawn into the magic and the mysteries surrounding him.
Echo North is a fairy-tale inspired YA novel. It is a relatively light read, although it does deal with some content that could be troubling for some readers; I'd give content warnings for: bullying, body issues (especially scarring), coercion/questionable consent, kidnapping and captivity, and self harm. None of this is particularly graphic in Echo North, but if these topics are upsetting to you, then it's better to be aware that they are present in deciding whether or not to give this a read.
While I'd say that Echo North rather weak ending, I do think that it has a strong beginning and that the journey taken along the way was worth the read. As discussed in the introductory post for this Enchanted Garden Book Club pick, Echo North is heavily inspired by a set of fairy tales that all share the trope of a man cursed to be monstrously transformed who is rescued and restored by the woman who comes to love him. You can tell very clearly while reading Echo North that its author, Joanna Ruth Meyer, is very familiar with "Beauty and the Beast," "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," and "Tam Lin," in particular. Having a familiarity with (and appreciation for) these traditional tales myself certainly impacted my enjoyment of Echo North. Seeing what Meyer chose to do with the elements of those tales was very enjoyable; although the majority of the plot was very predictable, it was interesting to see how she combined the different elements of these tales to form one single narrative.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of fairy-tale retellings, and especially to those who appreciate reading takes on less commonly adapted tales (such as "Tam Lin" and "East of the Sun, West of the Moon"). While there are some elements that could be stronger, especially in the latter half and resolution of the book, I do think that this is an entertaining read, and I'm glad I picked it up.
If you're interested in more in-depth thoughts regarding Echo North (and don't mind the spoilers that entails), keep an eye out for my discussion of this book with Mary over in the Enchanted Garden; both video and transcript will be up for that later this month.
Elizabeth Wilcox. Writer, Avid Role-Player, Amateur Mixologist. Survivor.