Beck Birsching’s entire world shattered into a million pieces when her mother passed away. Her mother, Ellery Birsching, was a talented and badass investigative reporter but she was haunted by too many personal demons. Beck has a hard time with staying in the present moment and she can’t control the frequent time slips she experiences because she always finds comfort in her memories of happier days when all was well with her mother. So when Beck receives a strange letter with the words “Come and find me,” in her mother’s handwriting and it has a return address from a town called Backravel, she hopes that she’ll finally get the answers she needs so that she can move on with her life.
As soon as Beck and Riley arrive in Backravel, Arizona they realize that something is very wrong with the town. How can a town function without cars, churches, pharmacies, hospitals or cemeteries? In Backravel, the past and the present come together in a mix of crumbling military structures and new buildings with the town’s luxurious treatment center towering over everything. None of the residents can recall when they got there and the only people who know what’s really going on is the town’s mysterious leader and his daughter, Avery.
While the Birsching sisters are feverishly searching for answers about their mother, there’s something that is drawing Beck and Avery together but Beck isn’t ready to deal with their unexpected connection or any of her turbulent emotions because she’s still trying to come to terms with her mother’s death. Beck doesn’t want to let go of the way things used to be and she will do anything to keep the memories of her mother alive.
Will Beck be able to finish the work her late mother had started and free herself from Backravel’s deadly grip before it is too late?
Just when I thought that I couldn’t love another book as much as I loved The Dead and The Dark—here comes this fantastic novel with a unique plot and an intriguing setting that almost made me forget that I had to be a responsible adult and go to work because all I wanted to do was eat, read, sleep and repeat. There were several instances where I had to remind myself that this story was just a work of fiction because I became heavily invested in Beck, Riley and Avery’s lives. Even though Where Echoes Die was told through Beck’s point of view, I still felt like I got to connect with Riley and Avery and I could easily understand what made them tick.
Pros And My Favourite Parts
Courtney Gould deserves the highest of fives because she created a brilliant, disturbing and mind-blowing sapphic horror that captivated me from the first paragraph until I got to the last page. Plus, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m still suffering from a serious book hangover and I really wished this story was longer. Where Echoes Die ticked all the right boxes for me because the word-building was awesome! Spooky desert town with endless secrets? Check. Messy, flawed and unreliable narrator? Check. Going for an emotional rollercoaster ride by feeling all the anxiety, sadness, hope and paranoia that Beck felt? Check. I’ve become a huge fan of this author’s books and I can’t wait to see what she does next! By the way, have I mentioned how much I adore this stunning book cover?
Cons And Heads Up
There are graphic and intense descriptions of emotional abuse, manipulation, grief, gaslighting, loss of a family member, mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder and memory loss.
Without a doubt, Where Echoes Die is a well-written and riveting mystery, gothic horror and psychological thriller with a few sci-fi elements. This story should be at the top of your to-be-read list if you’re in the mood to devour a coming-of-age novel that vividly portrays a creepy and isolated small town with a manipulative leader, deep sibling bonds, lots of emotional angst and mourning the loss of a loved one.
Excerpt from Where Echoes Die by Courtney Gould
“Picture this,” her mother says. She sweeps her arms through the air like she’s clearing the scene, setting the stage for a great presentation. “An isolated town in the desert. A tight-knit community more than eager to help a lost traveler. But in the process of helping, they’re also doing something heinous.”
“Shh,” Ellery hisses. “I don’t know yet. Something bad. Probably. Anyway, these people, they take you in, treat your wounds, set you free with nothing in your bank account and all your memories gone. How is that possible?”
“Maybe. But that only explains the memories, not the wounds. And what’s the point of pumping people for cash?”
“What reason does anyone have for robbing someone else?” her father muses.
“Could be nothing.” Ellery’s expression crinkles in thought. “But it doesn’t feel like nothing.”
“Maybe it’s magic,” Beck says.
Her mother smiles at her, reaches out, and pinches her cheek once. She straightens Beck’s glasses and turns back to the doorway. The light through the office window just catches the soft round of Ellery’s cheek, bathing her face in white light. “You heard her,” Ellery says. “Maybe it’s magic.”
“Sounds like a real story,” her father says.
“A potential story.”
Riley appears behind their father in the doorway, making this a family meeting. She links her fingers in front of her, rolling back on her heels. Riley’s never liked the office much; it’s overcrowded with paper and stuffy when all four of them are inside. Beck prefers the office less crowded, too. Riley and their father have their cartoons. They have football games on Sundays and fried cheese balls and prank videos on YouTube. If Riley inherited a part of their father’s soul, Beck inherited their mother’s. Her intense focus, her comfort in the quiet, her love of story. Her nagging, unending need to understand a picture for all its details.
“I see a piece of paper in the printer,” her father says. “Are we getting serious already?”
“No, no…” Ellery shakes her head. But she pauses, eyes the little flap of paper in the printer. “No, I’m just getting a feel for it.”
“Put it up,” Beck says.
Her eyes find the empty whiteboard and her fingers tangle in the carpet. She’s hungry, too. She’s starving for her mother’s next story, the next fascination that will fill their empty hours. Her parents lock eyes and Ellery smiles. With a pinch of mischief glowing in the dark green of her eyes, she plucks the paper from the printer—the post describing the traveler—and she tapes it to the whiteboard.
For a moment, all four Birschings stand in silence, staring at the first piece of paper, imagining how it will grow. Beck imagines the thrill of watching the story expand and she smiles. She doesn’t understand yet that this story isn’t a gift, it’s a poison. She doesn’t understand the way her mother’s digging will blacken her nails forever, will twist her mind and wring it out like an old sponge. Beck doesn’t understand yet that this first piece of paper won’t blossom, it will grow into a noose.
She doesn’t understand yet, but she feels it like a vibration under her skin. Something big is coming.
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 978-1250825797
Publisher: Wednesday Books
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