Title: Echo After Echo
Author: Amy Rose Capetta
Category: YA Mystery/Contemporary (LGBTQIAP+)
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press/10 October 2017
Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared—for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; and for death in the theater.
Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater—and then another—especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole—and cast lantern light on two girls, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.
I received an ARC from the Publisher via LibraryThing in exchange for a review. This book has content warnings for sexual harassment and detailed depictions of attempted murder.
So, I somehow managed to get my ARC of this book in the mail literally the day after the book released, which was cool but also kind of a bummer because I’d been hoping to write my review for it before it came out. Either way, it came, I read it, and I absolutely adored it.
There was so much about this book to love. I just adored Zara and Eli and how they interacted with each other. Zara is making it in theater as a chubby bisexual Jewish girl, which is fantastic, and Eli is a Puerto Rican lesbian who works on the technical side of the theater. The creepy director guy tells Zara not to have any distractions while the show is going on, and so the two of them have to keep their relationship quiet as it goes on. It’s nice that keeping it a secret didn’t actually seem to bother either of them by itself; they didn’t mind the secret. They just worried someone else would blow it for them. They weren’t a perfect couple, but they had wonderful chemistry and their relationship was beautifully written. I should note that there was one point where Eli was freaking out about Zara and her male co-lead and Eli’s internal commentary came off as borderline bimisic because she’d thought that maybe Zara was faking being gay and hadn’t acknowledged that she could like more than one gender, but that disappeared pretty quickly and once she knew that Zara was bi she was okay with it. It threw me out of the book for that one small paragraph, but it wasn’t a pervasive issue.
This book is definitely a slow burn, but it’s so engaging that it’s still a pretty quick read. The balance between the romance, the mystery, and the play is incredibly nuanced and well done, and the multiple points of view pull you in with each of the characters and their own stories. While the book is ultimately about Zara, it’s still left a lot of room to flesh out the rest of the characters, and it worked beautifully.
The theater was the perfect location for a novel like this — it has a flair for the dramatic, and the different genres it’s comprised of complement the setting well. The ending had me on my toes, and it left me breathless as I turned to the last page. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one — definitely a favorite of the year.
Final rating: 5 of 5 stars