Goodreads: Echo North
Scarred by a wolf when she is seven years old, Echo Alkaev leads a lonely existence, shunned by the villagers who think she is cursed. Years later, she meets the wolf again and he strikes a bargain: he will save her father’s life is she agrees to live with him for one year. In his house under the mountain, Echo finds an enchanted library and begins to fall in love with Hal, who seems trapped in the books. But an evil force is growing and the wolf, Echo, and Hal will all be lost at the end of the year, unless Echo can find a way to break the curse.
Echo North is a haunting fairy tale retelling that melds elements of “Beauty and the Beast,” “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” and “Tam Lin.” At its heart is the journey of young Echo Alkaev, scarred in her childhood by a wolf, and ostracized by the villagers as a result. She doubts her own self-worth and fears no one will ever see past her face. But her agreement to stay in the house of an enchanted wolf for one year (in exchange for the life of her father) provides her an opportunity for reflection. There she must come to terms with the life she lost, the life she could have had, and the life she now has the ability to choose for herself. Echo North is a love story, yes, but it is also the story of a young woman discovering her own strength and forging her own path.
Perhaps fittingly for a fairy tale retelling, Echo North celebrates the power, not of feats of arms, but of love. Echo may not think highly of herself, but she quietly shapes the world around her by consistently choosing to help others. This generosity is such a part of her that it seems instinctual and it is almost possible to miss the changes she effects. She makes it seem natural. But her true test, of course, comes at the very end. Readers of fairy tales will know that. But Joanna Ruth Meyer provides an original twist, one that asks readers to think more deeply about what love is, what love can endure, even what love should endure.
And that is true magic. Meyer has written a retelling so effortless that it feels like it could be the original tale–even while adding her own editions. Her story lives and breathes on the page, inviting readers in, wrapping them in enchantment. Echo North is a rare, beautiful thing. A story that you don’t want to end.
Some people seem to think that fairy tale retellings have gone out of style. But readers searching for the old magic will recognize it when they see it. If you like fairy tales, I am pretty certain you will love Echo North.