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Echo Lake was the title I packed to take with me to a lakeside cottage in Vermont. Letitia Trent, the author of Echo Lake was raised in Vermont. What a neat coincidence! (This was also part of our Summer Reading Program and this program or schedule has been working out fairly well.)

The premise of Echo Lake sounded like a grand one to bring with me to enjoy while sitting by the lake: “Thirty something Emily Collins inherits her recently murdered Aunt’s house. She decides to move to Heartshorne, Oklahoma. To claim it and confront her family’s dark past after her dead mother begins speaking to her in dreams, propelling this gothic, neo-noir thriller toward terrifying revelations of murderous small-town justice when a horrible community secret is revealed through the supernatural pull of Echo Lake.”

On the day after Emily discovers her live-in boyfriend of a number of years has been cheating, she receives a letter notifying her of the inheritance of her Aunt’s house in Echo Lake. Emily’s mother has never truly talked about Heartshorne, or Echo Lake, only to say that she left, will never return, and that her family had a way of taking care of their own.

When Emily’s mom, now deceased, begins talking to Emily in her dreams, she feels this is the perfect catalyst to kick the cheating boyfriend to the curb, quit her job and move out to Echo Lake and to dig around and really understand her mother’s family and why she left with such bad feelings.

As Emily is slowly discovering the secrets in Heartshorne, and what happened to her mother, but also finding out how and why her Aunt was murdered, there is a storyline focused on this yellow mist that forms over Echo Lake. It has become something of a wives tale and that it caused people to become sick, deluded and even led to the killing of some (this is revealed throughout and in between Emily’s story). However, towards the end this mysterious mist, its way of taking over people’s minds and controlling their actions falls dead away and is never fully realized or given the prominence you would imagine it would.

The town’s secret and one that is alluded to in the beginning with Emily’s mother saying “they have a way of taking care of their own” all began with Emily’s mother Connie and her mysterious 3-day disappearance after school. Once her family (mainly her Aunt), discovered the how and why Connie disappeared a vigilante approach to taking care of business was asserted and promptly quieted. This then becomes something embedded in the town’s way of life – but this too becomes lost in a confused myriad of confessions and unrelated murders or deaths.

Echo Lake started out very strong, one story where I was immediately drawn in and curious about, but then it ended in a confused mess of many loose ends. When you reach the end you normally would anticipate a fairly buttoned up ending, or one where all the seams have been deftly sewn together. Unfortunately in Echo Lake the ending only seemed to unravel from its seams, with too many disconnected ties. There were ideas on the occult, a mysterious misty lake and vigilante town members and just random people that have murdered others, all having nothing to mesh these differing components together.

Thank you very much to Dark House Press for reaching out and sending us a copy of Echo Lake, it was a good title to take on vacation, and on a vacation by the lake!

Literary Hoarders Penny rev