Review: Our Last Echoes by Kate Alice Marshall

(Last Updated On: April 12, 2021)

HI, OUR LAST ECHOES IS PERFECT AND I LOVED IT AND WILL RECOMMEND IT FOREVER. *puts on infomercial voice*

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*

About Our Last Echoes

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers  |  Release Date: March 16, 2021  |  Pages: 394
Age Range: Young Adult | Genre: Horror, Mystery 
Format: Hardcover & Audiobook |  Source: Purchased

cover for Our Last EchoesKara Thomas meets Twin Peaks in this supernatural thriller about one girl’s hunt for the truth about her mother’s disappearance.

Sophia’s first memory is of drowning. She remembers the darkness of the water and the briny taste as it fills her throat. She remembers the cold shock of going under. She remembers her mother pulling her to safety before disappearing forever. But Sophia has never been in the ocean. And her mother died years ago in a hospital. Or so she has been told her whole life.

A series of clues have led Sophia to the island of Bitter Rock, Alaska, where she talked her way into a summer internship at the Landon Avian Research Center, the same center her mother worked at right before she died. There, she meets the disarmingly clever Liam, whose own mother runs the LARC, as well as Abby, who’s following a mystery of her own: a series of unexplained disappearances. People have been vanishing from Bitter Rock for decades, leaving only their ghostly echoes behind. When it looks like their two mysteries might be one and the same, Sophia vows to dig up the truth, no matter how many lies she has to tell along the way. Even if it leads her to a truth she may not want to face.

Our Last Echoes is an eerie collection of found documents and written confessionals, in the style of Rules for Vanishing, with supernatural twists that keep you questioning what is true and what is an illusion.

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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

My Review of Our Last Echoes

Our Last Echoes by Kate Alice Marshall
Our Last Echoes physical copy

My Spoiler-free review of Rules for Vanishing

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, 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.

Audiobook Notes: I also purchased the audiobook for Our Last Echoes from Libro.fm (affiliate link) and read along with my physical copy.

Mixed media narrative style could be difficult to do well in audio format, but Penguin Audio did a fantastic job by using three different narrators depending on the piece of evidence being reviewed from the file. The narrators brought the book to life, especially with the banter between Liam, Abby, and Sophia. 👍 Recommended

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 in taking over my personality. I’m not even remotely sorry.

No two readers experience a book in the same way; this was mine, but what about you?

💬  Have you read Our Last Echoes yet? If so, what are your thoughts?

💬  Did I convince you to add this book to your TBR?

💬  What are your favorite campfire stories, or mixed-media horror? I want more books like this!

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9 Comments

  1. Shruvi

    April 7, 2021 at 12:29 AM

    Thanks for the recommendations Kal! I will certainly look for it.

  2. Dull Hilarity

    April 7, 2021 at 2:43 AM

    This looks excellent!

  3. Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

    April 7, 2021 at 2:48 AM

    I’m intrigued, thanks for sharing your thoughts

  4. Jenny @ Reading the End

    April 7, 2021 at 5:00 AM

    WHY ARE THERE SO MANY NIGHTMARE MUSHROOMS THESE DAYS. (I loved Mexican Gothic.) This sounds amazing — I read her last book, Rules for Vanishing, and it was easily the scariest book I’ve ever read. There was one moment that was so scary that I screamed NO NO NO and threw the book across the room; very fine and normal stuff. 😛 Thanks for reading and reviewing this; I can’t wait to pick it up!

  5. Kristi Housman

    April 7, 2021 at 7:25 AM

    This was my favorite read last month. I’m so glad you loved it, too.

  6. Clo @ Cuppa Clo

    April 7, 2021 at 9:46 AM

    *stares* ok so we know I don’t like horror right but I am now going to waddle this onto my TBR because paranormal and ubran legends caught me eye. The power you hold kalkal, my poor TBR is sobbing somewhere <3

  7. Caro @ bookcheshirecat

    April 9, 2021 at 8:53 AM

    I loved reading your review, Kal!! I also recently read Our Last Echoes and it was sooo good, Kate Alice Marshall has done it again ❤ I was also all here for the little easter eggs and the fact that all the files take place in the same paranormal universe!

  8. Cat @ Pages & Plots

    April 9, 2021 at 12:36 PM

    I’ve never heard of this book before, but I’m sold! It sounds so interesting 😍

  9. Lashaan Balasingam

    April 11, 2021 at 11:15 AM

    This sounds fantastic! I don’t think I’ve heard of this one before and your beautiful review has definitely made me curious enough to want to look into it now. Thanks for sharing! 😀

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