Where Echoes Die | Courtney Gould


Where Echoes Die by Courtney Gould

Out Now from Wednesday Books; 352 pages

Content Warning: Death of a parent/loved one, emotional abuse, gaslighting, neglectful parent, divorced parents

About the Author: “Courtney Gould writes books about queer girls, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night. Her debut novel, The Dead and The Dark, came out summer 2021 from Wednesday Books. Her second novel, Where Echoes Die, hits shelves on June 20th, 2023. Her next YA novel, What the Woods Took, is forthcoming… Courtney is represented by Claire Friedman and Jessica Mileo at InkWell Management” (Bio from author’s website).

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“On the highway shoulder, fifteen minutes past the Sterlings’ house, a sign juts up from the red dirt.

After the death of their mother, sisters Beck and Riley decide to travel to Arizona to visit Backravel, the small town that was the object of their mother’s obsession, before they move to Texas to live with their father. Beck, however, has an ulterior motive for visiting. Before the trip, she received a letter in her mother’s handwriting that read, Come and find me with the location of the town. Hoping to unravel the mystery of the secluded town that consumed their mother’s thoughts, Beck gets an uncanny feeling once she sets foot on the land. First, the town has no cars, cemeteries, or churches, and there’s a mixture of run-down military buildings and newly built buildings. Furthermore, the inhabitants appear to be in a perpetual state of confusion, except the town leader Ricky and his daughter Avery, who know more than they’re willing to show. Desperate for answers and engrossed with her grief, will Beck find the answer she seeks or lose herself just like her mother did?

Where Echoes Die is a YA mystery that explores themes of grief, memory, and relationships. I really loved how Gould described the setting, highlighting the beauty and allure of the desert, especially against the backdrop of a small, secluded town. I did, however, find this book to be extremely repetitive at the start, especially in regard to Beck’s mission of unraveling the mystery of Backravel. While this aspect of the story was probably meant to illustrate the frustrating lack of clarity of the town’s history and her mother’s obsession, it made the pace of the narrative feel very slow. However, 2/3 into the novel, the narrative took a sharp turn which was extremely satisfying for the patient reader. Where Echoes Die is a great read for the analytical reader; this novel will have you guessing and making theories until the very end. Even so, readers will be left with more questions.

PRR Writer, Tereza Rascon