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What: Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

Who: Candlewick Press

When: October 10th 2017

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Walker Books Australia for review.

Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared—for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; and for death in the theater.

Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater—and then another—especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole—and cast lantern light on two girls, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

The first thing you probably need to know about Echo After Echo is that there are a lot of POVs. From the blurb I thought this book was going to be about Zara, and then when Eli’s chapters started I was like: yeah, okay, that sometimes happens. And then when almost everyone in the theatre had at least one POV chapter I was a little overwhelmed. Especially since I didn’t feel like a lot of them were necessary. In a mystery/thriller I can understand the need for some non-MC POV chapters to give insight into some elements but these extra POV chapters didn’t feel like they did that.

I think it takes a special mystery/thriller book to juggle slow pacing and sadly I don’t think that Echo After Echo quite hit the mark. At 432 pages it just felt too long, and the mystery and thriller aspects of the book were lost underneath all the extras about the play and the theatre. I feel like the tension of people being murdered should be the overarching element in a mystery/thriller book, but in Echo After Echo I felt like that part was the subplot and the main plot was Zara being in a play for the first time and falling in love for the first time. I felt like there were two different novels trying to vie for the same page time.

When Zara arrives at the theatre, she idolises the director, who turns out to be a predator. Considering what’s going on in the entertainment industry right now I felt like this was pretty topical. Everyone in the theatre was under the director’s ‘spell’ and had been forever. Even if he made up stories about them, caused their relationships to fall apart, supported their drug abuse and alcoholism, and sexually assaulted them. This was, according to the people themselves, because the director had such power in the arts industry and could make or break them. Except… I never saw that power. He was in one theatre, with the same people all the time. I didn’t see this power that they spoke of at all. And I found some actions of the theatre people to be pretty disgusting in terms of their knowledge of the director’s behaviour, and the fact that he’d hired a teenage girl to play his leading role. All of them were complicit in how he treated Zara.

The best thing about Echo After Echo by far was the romance between Zara and Eli. It was innocent and sweet and I loved it. Reading about Zara falling in love for the first time was lovely, and reading about Eli falling for someone who she was scared would choose her career over her was bittersweet. Their relationship wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I feel like they actually talked about things instead of trying to ignore them. The two girls were very open and honest with each other and I appreciated that a lot. I also liked their frank discussions regarding their sexuality – Zara is bi and Eli is gay – and their support for one another in this regard.

The ending, however, kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth in terms of who the murderer was. Slightly poilery bit ahead: I’m not entirely okay with a victim turning out to be the murderer, and thus the person we’re supposed to hate. I know that murder, of course, is not the answer to trauma but I still didn’t like how we were, obviously, supposed to feel horror towards the perpetrator. And even though I felt that horror towards their actions, I couldn’t feel it fully. The person had been abused by the director for years and I couldn’t dismiss that just because of who they turned out to be.

All in all, I did enjoy Echo After Echo even though there were a few elements I wasn’t 100% a fan of. I still recommend this book if you’re looking for a mystery/thriller with queer girls at the helm!

© 2018, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

multiple murders, suicidal ideation, reference to eating disorder, reference to rape, use of ableist language, emotional abuse, attempted murder, reference to homophobia/misia, reference to drug abuse, reference to alcoholism, absent parents, and physical boundary pushing (the director invades Zara’s personal space multiple times, even though he knows it makes her extremely uncomfortable and scared)

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Posted on: January 9, 2018 • By: Chiara

10 Responses to Review: Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

  1. I’m sorry this one was slightly disappoint for you, dear Chiara! I can see how the ridiculous number of POV characters might be frustrating — honestly, I can barely keep up when books have just two or three POV characters (except when it’s done really, REALLY well — which is not often) so I don’t imagine I’d have such a great time trying to parse out this one, either. Thank you so much for this lovely review…

    … & also for the photos of that adorable cat, who I sort of want to kiss & feed cat treats forever??? What is his/her name & what is your relationship with him/her & would you be able to fulfill this desperate wish of mine????

    • Chiara says:

      Me too :( The POVs were one of the letdowns of this book, especially since they weren’t very distinct in their writing style. It was my pleasure, lovely <3

      That is Figaro! My blessed little baby. He is as naughty as he is cute, haha. If you ever make your way to my shores I will introduce the two of you! He is quite afraid of strangers but very partial to soft, gentle people, so I know you would be the perfect new friend for him <3

  2. Kelly says:

    This really sounds like an interesting book, and I think I might have to check it out whenever I can get it on sale. I’m not one for books with a lot of POVs, because sometimes I don’t read for a day or two and forget what’s been going on. Great review, by the way, and adorable kitty!

    • Chiara says:

      It definitely was an interesting book! And I hope you like it if you can get it on sale sometime, Kelly :) I read this one pretty quickly so it wasn’t too hard to keep track of. And a lot of them were one off POVs (which is actually one of the reasons I didn’t like them so much, haha). Thank you!!

  3. Eeeek about that ending. I honestly don’t gravitate towards thrillers in the first place, but the amount of POVs is a bit daunting anyway. 😳 It does sound like a very current topic to be talking about though (ugh unfortunately…humans are so awful sometimes).

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, the ending was kind of gross and I wasn’t the hugest fan… And yes, the POVs were many and not necessary, haha! And true, I am not very partial to humans.

  4. Kelly says:

    This must have been difficult to get through in parts, especially given all the survival stories of strength from women on social media, it’s art intimidating life really. It sounds as though between the abuse and harnessing, having so many different points of view wouldn’t give you a real sense of anyone. It’s one of my reading peeves. Sorry that you couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Brilliant review <3 <3

    • Chiara says:

      It was paralleling the current times when I was reading it, which is beyond coincidental because this book would have had to be written long before the media was covering the sexual harassment of people in the entertainment industry. It was a shame that I didn’t connect and love this book as much as I thought I would but it was definitely still a good book I would recommend! Thank you, Kelly <3

  5. Verushka says:

    What a pity this didn’t work out! The blurb sounded sooo promising!

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