Review

“A deftly crafted and thoroughly fun read … especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.” —MBR Midwest Book Review

The Echo of Old Books

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The Echo of Old Books by Barbara Davis is a corkscrew of a book, with many twists and turns that keep the reader on the edge of their seat until the very end. The story revolves around a pair of mysterious books that lead Ashlyn Greer, a rare-book dealer, on a journey to unravel a decades-old literary mystery. But at its heart, this is a story about a tragic romance and family trauma.

Ashlyn has an acute understanding of books; she can sense the emotion left behind by their previous owners, like a kind of emotional fingerprint. When Ashlyn discovers a pair of unusual volumes that have never been published, her fascination turns into obsession. Written over forty years previously, each is inscribed with an accusation, and tells two sides of the same story: one of a doomed romance between a man named Hemi and a woman called Belle. As Ashlyn delves deeper into the books’ history, she discovers a love affair both passionate and all-consuming, but it was also disastrous from the start. Pride and a lack of communication led to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and ultimately, a heartbreaking end. It’s a story that resonates with anyone who has ever been in love, and it’s a reminder that sometimes, all it takes to save a relationship is an upfront conversation.

Ashlyn is determined to track down the couple’s history and learn why their love affair fell apart. As she reads on, it becomes clear that unlocking this mystery will help her to also unlock the unfinished chapters of her own life and resolve deep personal trauma. She comes to understand the power of forgiveness, and that the choice to forgive is as much about self-healing as about absolving another of their guilt.

A story within a story, The Echo of Old Books has all the elements I love―unforgettable characters, family drama, deceit, lies, and corruption, an old mystery begging to be solved, a well-researched historical backstory that is both romantic and tragic, and a touch of magical realism.

And love.


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