(There is intentionally no photo here since the book said no part of this book should be used electronic or mechanical, and I want to respect the publisher.)
Written By: Joanna Meyer
Final Overall Rating: 3/10
First of all, this review is purely derived from my own personal opinion. If you disagree, let me know in the comments; I am always up for a good discussion or to answer questions.
(Spoilers Below – Read at your own peril!)
Recommend Yes or No:
No. This is a case of cover catfishing. I love fairytale retellings as much as the next person, but this book, in my opinion, is a muddled attempt to combine 3 different fairytales, and all without making any significant story line altercations. If you are going to do a retelling then change some stuff up – if I wanted to read Beauty and the Beast; East of the Sun, West of the Moon; or Tam Lin then I would read those original tales. None of the characters in Echo North are dynamic (including the protagonist, Echo), the world is poorly structured, and 400 pages made the book much longer than it needed to be (200 pages would have sufficed). Meyer wants this book to be more magical and elegant than it actually is. Don’t waste your time on a book that falls short to the original works in every way.
Writing Style: 4/10
Meyer’s writing wasn’t the worst, but I certainly did not feel it was “good.” First off, Echo North is written in first person and past tense for the duration of Part One, and then she writes Part Two in first person and present tense. I feel like this was a poor decision on Meyer’s part, because while I was reading if felt like I was experiencing a form of mental whiplash. I get the whole Echo lived twice thing (due to the Winds sending her back in time for a second chance), but that did not feel like reason enough to change the tense of the book. It was extremely frustrating. This change would have made more sense if the book had a great period of time elapse between Part One and Part Two, but that was not the case.
Secondly, some of Meyer’s details either made no sense OR she made too many references to the originals/Disney rendition. I’ll start with some details that made no sense. On page 110 the wolf talks about being able to sew and how difficult it is… There is NO PHYSICAL WAY for a wolf to sew – let alone sew specific, detailed stitches. The answer to how the wolf stitched the rooms should have been a magic needle or something to do with magic. Next I found issue with the “mirror-books.” To start, this is the Oxford definition of a book: “A written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.” The mirror-books were in no way books; they were closer to a VR experience or a movie. They should have been called something in reference to stories, like mirror-stories or story-mirror, but books should not have been referenced since the nature of the “mirror-books” had nothing to do with actual books. This was a failed detail on Meyer’s part. Also, there are references to Disney’s gold dress and a chipped teacup. Like seriously? The story is practically written for Meyer, yet she cannot use her own creativity to stay away from the tropes of other creators.
All I will say for the story is that the plot is written for her by others, and all she had to do was retell the story with a twist. And, in my opinion, none of her twists were stark enough from the originals/Disney version. Also, the book was annoyingly predictable.
Character Development: 2/10
The element of character development is what I think suffered the most in Echo North. My first and foremost issue was that Echo is a weak female character and a poor example of feminine strength. For starters, Echo suffers from Stockholm syndrome. I hated that Meyer did not change this trope in her book. Beauty and the Beast was originally created to influence young and impressionable women to marry men regardless of their emotions and of the man’s age/physical appearance/temperament. Essentially the original Beauty and the Beast was used to BRAIN WASH women into accepting their arranged marriages and the partners that they did not consent to loving. Once again, this toxic trope follows suit in the story of Echo, and I hated every moment of it. If Echo was going to fall in love with Hal, then Hal (or Wolf) should not have been manipulating and cruel; I mean, for the love of cupcakes (and I love cupcakes… a lot), Hal mutilated Echo.
And finally, just to touch on the other characters, I felt that, in addition to Echo, Hal and Mokosh were flat. They started the book as un-relatable and generic characters and ended it virtually the same.
Fun Facts about Meyer:
- Meyer has her bachelor’s degree in music
- She lives in Mesa, Arizona
Favorite Quote from Echo North:
“Must you always know a story ends happily before you feel equal to beginning it?… Sometimes the adventure is enough” (Meyer 124)
Don’t follow a talking wolf into the woods… they are liars.
Meyer, Joanna Ruth. Echo North. Massachusetts: Page Street Publishing Co., 2019. Print.
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?