Publisher: Horrific Tales Publishing
Publication Date: 16th May 2014
REVIEWED BY CHAD
To start off with, I need to pass along a necessary warning regarding this review. Because this is the second book of a trilogy, there is going to be a certain amount of spoiling of the first book which is unfortunately inevitable. I won’t reveal any specific events which take place in either book, but by simply describing the plot of this there are inevitable hints which indicate how the first book ended. So please bear this in mind if you choose to move forward and take in this review.
There is a constant I find true of pretty much all sequels but it seems especially so for the horror genre. When it comes to the fabled follow-up, the one with the number two in the title, there seem to be two types of stories. The first is the story which bears little or no significance whatsoever to the first part. Essentially what you end up with is a near re-creation of the formula of the first book, retold with a new cast of characters. And as a result, I find that this type of a sequel often ends up feeling flat in comparison to the first. There are any number of movie sequels which are often somewhat laughable when you compare them to the original. Just as an example, I won’t even bring myself to watch Pet Semetery Two.
But then you have the sequel that is a definite continuation of the narrative from one story into the next. You have a new plot with some new characters but you still feel the weight of the events of the first story and in my opinion the most telling feature of this type of sequel is that, while the story could technically stand on its own, you appreciate it much more after having also experienced the first part.
In the case of Echoes, I was happy to find that the book definitely follows the second model and feels like a natural continuation from the first book. I think that one sign of the effectiveness is that I think I could read straight through from the first to the second book and barely notice the change.
One part of this book that I really loved was in how he showed an actual emotional aftermath for his characters, in the wake of events in the previous book. Too often, we see the hero win out the day and then ride off happily into the sunset. And while this might be satisfying for some readers, I frequently find myself wondering what happens now for these people as they have to try and go back to their lives.
We are reintroduced to Melody and Steve who, despite surviving the events surrounding Hope House, are clearly having difficulties. Whether it be Steve’s health issues or Melody’s guilt for her part in causing them. This is a marriage in crisis.
And it isn’t just Melody and Steve who are affected. Bray goes so far as to show the entire town from the first book as being one in decline. The once quaint, albeit dark community from the first book seems to have become a seedy tribute to commercial expansion.
When they receive word that a new hotel is set to be built on the same site they just barely escaped from, they are forced onto a path that leads them right back into their own nightmares.
I think this goes about the telling of a sequel in the way I find the most effective. Namely, key elements of the first book are brought back but there are enough fresh and new aspects to not make you feel like you’re reading the same book for the second time.
Bray maintains the level of outstanding description and frightening atmosphere from the first book. And now that we, as the readers, have that first instalment under our belts, we get to appreciate the dramatic irony of knowing what these characters are in for, even if they don’t.
Although I had a little difficulty keeping some of the characters straight at first, it didn’t take me too long to click with the story and I thought Bray infused it with an impressive level of foreboding and impending doom. This book served to not only entertain but to heighten my intrigue and interest in this area and what might have happened to have brought about so much death.
Bray makes a bold choice at the end of the book, one that will likely be unpopular with some but I have to respect him for sticking with what he felt was needed for the story.
In the end, this book accomplishes exactly what I think the second book of a trilogy should do. It elevates the story in just the right amount from the first book and makes me want to immediately open up to page one of the third book.
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Seven years have passed since the fire at Hope House. Despite surviving, the lives of Steve and Melody Samson have changed for the worse. Steve has become a virtual recluse, while Melody is consumed by guilt, and sees in their son a constant reminder of the man Steve used to be.
The town of Oakwell has become a tourist hotspot for paranormal enthusiasts, eager to learn more about the ‘Hope House Haunting’, becoming everything the residents of the once sleepy town fought so hard to prevent.
Ambitious town councillor Henry Marshall has an idea to turn the unwanted attention on the town to his own advantage, by building a hotel on the site of Hope House.
As construction begins the evil within Oakwell forest stirs. Influenced by the powerful Gogoku, Marshall becomes consumed with the need to draw Steve & Melody back to Oakwell, no matter the cost…
CONFESSIONS REVIEWS MICHAEL BRAY
Michael Bray is a bestselling horror / thriller author of several novels. Influenced from an early age by the suspense horror of authors such as Stephen King, Richard Laymon, Shaun Hutson, James Herbert & Brian Lumley, along with TV shows like Tales from the Crypt & The Twilight Zone, his work touches on the psychological side of horror, teasing the reader’s nerves and willing them to keep turning the pages.
Several of his titles are currently being translated into multiple languages and with options for movie and Television adaptations under
negotiation for others, he will look to continue his growth as a full time professional writer long into the future.
And for more about Michael, visit his site or find him on social media: