Sunday, October 31, 2010

review: haunted echoes by julie ann howell

Haunted Echoes finds author Sarah Reddington suffering from writer’s block as she attempts to produce a second novel for her publisher. To get out of her rut, Sarah agrees to a trip to a small town on Maine’s coast. She quickly discovers a terrible history to the inn where she’s staying—a family was murdered many years ago. Soon “The Keeper” is after Sarah as well.

The book reads as children’s novel; therefore, I will review it as such (though I searched, I found nothing to indicate age level other than the fact that the author has previously written children’s books). The ending of Haunted Echoes is a bit rushed without any of the major action described. A children’s tale shouldn’t go into the gruesome details of course, but there still needed to be something more between Abby arriving to save Sarah and the actual emergence of Sarah from the inn. Until that point, the plot moved along well. Unfortunately, the dialogue is, for the most part, tremendously awkward. Here’s a scene between Abby and her daughter, Tessa (age 6):
“What is it, Mommy? Where are we?” Tessa said, rubbing her sleepy eyes.

“I do believe we are on State Road 22, or least we are supposed to be. With all this fog, I can’t be so sure, my love.”

“Are we almost to our hotel? How many more minutes, Mommy?”

“Well, I’m not sure, but according to this trusty map I just realized I was holding upside down, maybe five or ten minutes. Can you stand it, my love? Now help Mommy find the big hotel, okay?”
All the adults speak like Abby with the “I do believe” and “trusty map” weirdness. Need more? Here’s Sarah and a former journalist she hopes can tell her about the murders:
“I know you are staying at the inn. I have seen you puttering around on the grounds.” Pushing back his glasses with his feeble, crooked fingers, he studied Sarah’s eyes, as if he wanted to read her thoughts.

“Okay, I wouldn’t exactly call it puttering around, but if that is the way you would like to put it, I will go with that. And you have been watching me, really? I find that just a little disturbing,” Sarah said, annoyed with his rude and blunt delivery.
Uh, Sarah? If you want his help, you probably shouldn’t be so snotty. Haunted Echoes would be much improved with some reworking of the dialogue. Although the backstory is predictable, Haunted Echoes makes a nice children’s ghost story with an interesting twist in Sarah’s final scene.
(as a children’s book)
Review copy provided by MM Book Publicity.

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