In exchange for saving her father from dying in the freezing winter wilderness, Echo Alkaev agrees to stay with the white wolf in his house under the hill for one year. Echo North weaves together the the tales of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Beauty and the Beast, and Tam Lin. All have in common falling in love with a beast. Meyer combines these so expertly it is as if they were always meant to be the same story.
Like Beauty and the Beast, Echo finds a library in one of the rooms. But this is an enchanted library, with book mirrors, where you enter the story instead of merely read it. This was an excellent way to introduce variance in the settings and introduce more characters when much of the book takes place within the one house.
The house itself is enchanted, with these magical rooms needing to be stitched together so they don't go wild or fall away from the house. The wolf teaches Echo how to do this stitching, so she begins to find a purpose in caring for the house.
There were a few twists through the tale, some of which I saw coming, and some which I most definitely did not. The story kept me highly engaged. I wanted very much for Echo to succeed in breaking the curse. But curses and witches don't let go easily. There is a very dramatic scene at the climax that wrenched my heart.
The ending was not an automatic happily-ever-after. The characters have to deal with what their emotions are out in the real world, and figure out how to reinstate themselves after being apart of it. Secrets and lies are not just swept under the carpet or easily forgiven, they must be dealt with.
But the old magic wins in the end.
I recommend this book, especially if you have enjoyed Uprooted or House of Salt and Sorrows. Great characters, a unique setting, and everything steeped in magic. I will definitely be reading more by Joanna Ruth Meyer.
Mary W. Jensen. Author, poet, gamer, library shelver.
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