Echo North

It had a fairy tale feel to it, something atmospheric in a sense, that made reading it not feel like a child’s tale, but more a cozy story you’d sit next to a fire while listening to it being told to you.

READ IF YOU…

  • Want atmosphere
  • Like lush, woodsy books
  • Like retellings

TitleEcho North | Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer  Rating: 4/5

In a way, it’s somewhat a Beauty and the Beast retelling, with a handsome prince forced into the shape of an animal by a wicked witch, and only the love of a girl could save him. He has a remote and magical castle, she agrees to live with him to save her father, and he has a library.

But it’s also somewhat different.

Echo Alkaev is a young woman who was scarred as a child by a wild wolf who attacked her after she tried saving him from a bear trap. Because of her face, the townspeople say she’s been touched by the devil himself, and she has no friends to speak of. So she locks herself away in her father’s bookshop, dreaming of a different life. Her brother encourages her to apply to university, because she’s smart enough to get in, and too smart to waste her life hiding away in a village bookshop.

She does. And she’s accepted. But her wicked stepmother keeps her from going.

Echo North is a retelling amalgam of Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and East of the Sun, West of the Moon. I loved the fantasy, the magic, and the fierceness of the love between daughter and father, and sister and brother. It had a fairy tale feel to it, something atmospheric in a sense, that made reading it not feel like a child’s tale, but more a cozy story you’d sit next to a fire while listening to it being told to you.

There’s also a depth to the story. Echo is worried and, in a way, obsessed by her looks. She thinks they hold her back, her scarred face frightening people away. But she grows as a character, and she realizes her face doesn’t have to hold her back. She has a mind behind that face, and it’s a good one. So the story has the typical fairy tale elements to it, with handsome prince, pretty girl, wicked characters, but it goes a step further. The handsome prince wants more for the pretty girl, and the pretty girl wants more for herself than a handsome prince to marry.

This is the kind of fairy tale I’d want a daughter to grow up with.

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