Our Last Echoes is AMAZING

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Hey you! Do you like urban legends and paranornal stories? Do you like these paranormal stories dripping with so much atmosphere that you feel nervous reading? Do you like books told in multi-media format with interviews, video recordings, and written testimony?

Then do I have a book for you! *presents Our Last Echoes*

Our Last Echoes has solidified Kate Alice Marshall as one of my favorite authors and secured her spot on my insta-buy list. This book is amazing and spooky and heartbreaking. Seriously, how many emotions can a little horror book make me feel? (The limit does not exist.)

"At least three times before, people had tried to gain footholds of one kind or another on that side of the island. Every time it ended in disaster."

Sophia has talked her way into a (fake) summer internship at the Landon Avian Research Center located on Bitter Rock, Alaska to discover the truth of her mother's death and what she finds is a centuries-long supernatural nightmare.

"The first staccato thrill of anticipation tapped its way down my spine."
Told in the same style as Rules for Vanishing (review), we actually learn a bit more about Dr. Ashford and his files - and there's even a reference to the characters from Rules for Vanishing! I love it when authors write standalones but they are all connected in the same "world" and contain little Easter egg references. That said, you don't need to read her other books in order to devour this one.

"What did it say about me that the first time in my life I had an easy time making friends, it was on a haunted island in the middle of nowhere?"

The book is effortlessly both character-driven and plot-driven, and fast-paced to boot. Often times I find that horror books sacrifice character development to focus on the plot, but yet again we have a cast of characters who each have their own backstory and layered histories with one another. I adore the family feel to the group of LARC researchers, how out of place both Sophia and Liam are (and of course how unwelcome Abby is); the fast Scooby Gang feel for Liam, Abby, and Sophia. But more than that, I love how Abby and Liam just don't like each other but tolerate one another? It feels like a real group of friends formed out of necessity. The banter and bickering is to die for, kay? Also: Moriarty.

"The first staccato thrill of anticipation tapped its way down my spine."

I'm genuinely in awe of how Marshall can craft such poetic and atmospheric writing without slowing down the narrative; I found myself gripped and needing to read so I could find out more about what happened on Belaya Skala. Each new piece of evidence in Ashford File #77 slides a new piece of the puzzle into place and shifting our understanding as well.

"I felt it too. Like the rush of beetles away from the light. A skittering and chittering in the air that you couldn't hear but you could feel - something wrong, but nothing you could put words to."

Every sentence sits in an uncanny valley, slight unease grows as you read without knowing why. As the mysteries of the island are uncovered, I was left wondering what is real and who to trust... so the tension never really goes away.

"Three cheers of objectively real horrors."

Kate Alice Marshall's novels are campfire stories brought to a hauntingly vivid life and I adore the mixed-media style of exposition. As reality blurs with the mist, I appreciate the inclusion of the video transcriptions so the reader doesn't have to question the supernatural elements like one would if it were just character recollection.

"They have our voices."

On the horror front, this book is genuinely creepy as hell. The atmosphere immediately builds and maintains tension, but let me tell you now: the echoes are terrifying and the descriptive body horror of the creatures stalking our characters haunt me. There are nightmare mushrooms that fester my brain rent-free with the mushrooms from Mexican Gothic (review).

In conclusion, Our Last Echoes is a masterpiece of horror and loss and friendship and love, and you need to read it. Kate Alice Marshall is a master of the written word and an underrated author. Please be prepared for this book to join This Mortal Coil (review) in taking over my personality.

Content warnings: abandonment, body horror, death, drowning, loss of a parent, memory loss,
Representation: effortlessly diverse world that mirrors the real world, mood disorder (and normalization of meds) rep, orphan/foster system rep