Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Posted On 10 February 2022

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Oh my days, that start

Flipping heck this book starts with a total mind blowing scene – by which I mean you’ll need to sit behind a cushion.  To be honest, having read Hex, I already knew that this author could write some creepy prose and Echo is no exception.  What really stands out for me with both Hex and Echo is that although they’re both completely different stories they both rely on superstition and ever increasing fear.  I will mention that this book is not a book to race through,  it’s also not a slasher-type-in-your-face horror.  What it is is a character focused tale involving a traumatic experience that is slowly revealed with insidious subtlety until the dramatic conclusion ends in a turbulent finale.

I will only briefly describe the plot.  As the story begins we make the acquaintance of Nick Grevers a mountaineer who wakes up in hospital with horrific facial injuries, his climbing partner Augustin is missing presumed dead and all the evidence points to anything but an actual climbing accident.  From here we meet Nick’s partner Sam and experience his struggle to come to terms with what’s happened and from there other accidents occur and things start to look bleak.

Okay, what I really liked about this book.

The attention to detail in terms of the mountain climbing, the cold, the snow and the physical danger are excellent.  It’s atmospheric and then some.

There is a heavy play on superstition, the sort of elements that are woven into the story with such a deft hand that you could read this as hysteria, delusion or knee jerk reaction.  It’s a brilliant touch because you’re never quite sure what’s really going on and it puts you on the edge of your seat reading furiously to find out.

On top of this there’s the mystery of what actually took place and this is kept under wraps and revealed little by little. The writing is well done and I loved the way the author uses references to other horror stories with opening chapters taken from well known books together with references to Prometheus and Frankenstein.

The other really clever element is the characters.  Primarily Nick and Sam but also Sam’s sister, one of the medical staff who treated Nick originally and the people in the small village who really don’t like outsiders and any sort of upset in the balance.  We jump back to an earlier trauma that Sam and his sister experienced and how this affected them both in later life – in particular in terms of misremembering things and how this leads to feelings of guilt.

However, the really winning element of the story is the mountain itself.  Unfathomable, dangerous, elusive, ever changing, defying any attempt to conquer it.  Dark, mysterious and foreboding.

In terms of criticisms.  I think this is longer than I expected.  There is an element of reinforcement of certain aspects that begins to feel a little repetitive and certainly some points are stretched out. Not enough to spoil my enjoyment but I think it’s good to be forewarned that this is a slow burn.

I don’t want to really give too much away here which is why this review will be necessarily short.  This is a creepy and menacing story that relies heavily on exceptional characters, family ties and superstitions that have become so deep rooted that they almost feel like hysteria.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars.