All the pieces of teenage life are embodied in this novel of mysterious self-discoveries. Author Jessica Blackburn perfects the likable character of Rylee Perry, a typical high schooler in a small town, who realizes she isn’t a normal teen after all.
When Rylee stumbles upon a creepy hut in the woods while walking her dog, she is greeted by a strange hermit woman. Old and deteriorated, she resembles what I imagine The Blair Witch would look like. Well- described and intriguingly enough, the forest wench reveals to Rylee that she possesses the rare gift of a “balancer.” We learn later how this is a gift of giving and receiving karma.
Slight paranormal aspects and mysterious happenings bring Rylee to realize she is able to Echo the feelings and intentions of others back onto each person. Mini conflicts arise throughout the plot, which hit every spectrum of young adult life challenges. Rylee deals with turbulent times from young love with a childhood friend, her mother’s sickness, friendship, self-discovery, faith, and leverage of her new gift.
Notable symbols convey themes representing the passage of time and what it does to your soul with negative energy, through an object known as the Onyx mirror. This theme was conveyed prevalently by the hermit witch character, who subtly influences Rylee as she learns how to master her energy to benefit others.
What would have been better and maybe we can hope to see in the next book is a brief explanation or history of how and why Rylee possessed this specific gift. I would love to know more about the connection of her gift and how it ties into her stumbling upon the witch in the woods.
I enjoyed the subtle biblical references to unveiling secrets, power, and innocence. I also loved the essence of description throughout the novel. Blackburn’s pen does a delicate dance across the page when she describes, “The bordering lights of the recently set sun scraped at the night sky with its outstretched fingers before slipping away and fading into nothing.” (126).
My most favored character was Shyler, Rylee’s best girl- friend, who acts as comic relief throughout the novel, “Are you hiding a unicorn in your backyard? Because I KNEW there was a reason your dad always kept the door locked on that brick shed!” (39). I thought it was a cute display of a teenage jargoney-fun friendship.
I am overjoyed to have had the pleasure of reading Jessica Blackburn’s first book. I would enjoy reading another with similar positive tones and recommend it to teens who want mystery or suspense from a relatable perspective.
Echo good karma vibes and add this novel to your shelf by reading The Echoing. Click the link for ultimate Bookie Happiness!
“Are you hiding a unicorn in your backyard? Because I KNEW there was a reason your dad always kept the door locked on that brick shed!” – Shyler, Jessica Blackburn, The Echoing