🌟 I read this for the Yule Bingo Challenge, for the category of Nagini: Book with betrayal. For more info on this challenge, click here. 🌟
"An art monster is someone who gives his entire life over to creation" (207)
Finally! An F/F YA romance with substance!
Zara is a teenage actress who moves to New York when she finds out she's received the role of Echo, in the play Echo and Ariston. She's instantly blown away by the glamor of New York, the opulent Aurelia Theater, and the experience and sophistication of her coworkers and fellow actors, one of them, her co-star, being a famous Hollywood A-lister trying to score more gravitas.
Hanging over the play, however, is a curse: many people working both on and off the stage have died in the Aurelia Theater. Zara is unlucky enough to see the lighting director fall to his death during her first week. The curse is an open secret among those who work in the theater and yet everyone is curiously reluctant to talk about it. As if that weren't creepy enough, the director of the play, Leopold, is super creepy and extremely menacing, with his devotion to his visions approaching something that looks a lot like insanity -
The story is told from multiple POVs, which is normally something I don't like or find too distracting, but it's done fairly seamlessly here, with one melding into the other. I was also pleasantly surprised by the large cast of characters, all of them very interesting and unique, even if they're not all likable. I loved the mystery aspect, and how each POV was used to hint at more; it never felt like the author was just trying to bolster the page count by packing the book with more people - each new POV added new information, and I was interested in what they had to say.
Lastly, the writing and the love story were just excellent. This is what Elliot Wake tried - and failed - to do with BLACK IRIS. Both have lovely passages of writing, but ECHO AFTER ECHO is never bogged down by its prose, and the actual story is never relegated to the background while the metaphors wallow in their own self-importance. The love story between Eli and Zara was just passionate enough to encapsulate the be-all and end-all of teenage passion, but not so corny that it had me rolling my eyes in disgust and going, "Really? Did you read that off a candy heart?" This is a slow burn romance between two imperfect people who sometimes hurt each other and sometimes make selfish decisions (I wanted to smack Zara at one point), but ultimately love conquers all.
The only flaw is that - sometimes - the pacing was a bit too slow, and I'd have to set the book aside and go off and do something else. I considered marking this book as did-not-finish for a while but luckily the plot picked up around 207 (when the murder mystery becomes more focal in the story line). This book is long, 400+ pages, and I'm not entirely convinced that every word was necessary.
Aside from that, I really enjoyed this book. I would read more from this author.
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars