Here I am, back with another review of a L.A. Ashton book! I’ve loved Echoes since I first read it when Ashton self-published it on Amazon. I was so excited when I found out that Ashton is having it re-published by Ninestar Press! Reading it a second time for this review was just as engrossing as the first time I picked it up.
After one thousand years of listless eternity, Oskar is used to his particular brand of loneliness. But a long walk through Middle America and a few chance encounters will lead him straight to a man he’d known to be long since dead―his childhood best friend, Aranck.
Being undead hasn’t stopped Aran from living life to the fullest. He has all the money and power his charm and business savvy could earn him, and plenty of friends. Lately, though, something seems to be missing. After a millennium, perhaps the world’s shine has worn off—and that’s when Oskar stumbles back into his life, reminding him of who he used to be.
Together the two vampires remember what it felt like to live, all the while navigating a conflict with the local pack of werewolves. A lot has changed in a thousand years, and only time will tell if those changes will bring Oskar and Aranck closer together, or ensure they remain apart.
(Thanks to Ashton for providing this fantastic blurb so I don’t have to messily try to reproduce my own version!)
I read Echoes for the first time in 2017, and though I didn’t have my review blog up and running back then, I did write a brief review on Goodreads, which reads as follows:
I couldn't put this book down as soon as I started it. Usually, I have trouble liking new characters in novels I'm just starting, but Ashton's writing made it easy for me to become enamored with the main characters. This is a beautifully crafted supernatural LGBT romance. If you love history, vampires, werewolves, romantic and plot tension, and slow burn romance, this is the book for you. I sincerely hope this isn't the last we see of these characters and this world, because I loved every minute I was immersed in the story.
I was admittedly a bit skeptical when I started Echoes the first time. Vampire novels aren’t really being published right now, and I worried that this story would be somewhat cliché. And while Ashton does pull from many of the accepted rules and tropes about vampires—they turn to ash in the sunlight, they need to drink blood to live, they’re immortal unless brutally killed, and they have superhuman reflexes—Ashton plays with the tropes and the worldbuilding so that these vampires feel not exactly new, but fully realized and unique.
Aranck and Oskar live in a world that is very different from the one they were born into. Aranck was born in an Algonquin tribe in what is now Canada. Oskar, a Viking, met and befriended Aranck (who now goes by Aran) when they were both teenagers. Now, a thousand years later, vampires are known to the world, and they navigate a delicate balance with the human world. Ashton sprinkles in delightful details to make this world believable: blood banks, humans who idolize vampires, humans who are terrified of them, live-in blood donors for vampires, clubs and bars where both species mingle, the unspoken laws that vampires live by. Meanwhile, werewolves still hide in the dark, unknown to the human world, and are reluctant allies with vampires.
The tentative peace between werewolves and vampires comes into question when a pack of werewolves in Aran’s district is attacked by an unseen vampire. As leader of his district, Aran has a responsibility to keep the peace and find the culprit. Shortly thereafter, Oskar shows up out of the blue, turning Aran’s world upside-down. Echoes is as much a love story between childhood friends as it is an exploration of the ways that the supernatural wield or hide their power, and how that plays into a modern society where those in power want to maintain, at the very least, an illusion of equality.
Okay, now onto the good stuff. I am a sucker (pun fully intended) for a good slow-burn romance, and Ashton killed it with this one. There is so much mutual yearning between these two, intensified all the more because both truly believed the other to be dead. Aran is whip-smart, talkative, vibrant, gorgeous—exactly as Oskar remembered him to be. Meanwhile Oskar is more reserved, keeps his feelings to himself, and spent his immortal years wandering the country, pretty much alone. But when they’re together, Oskar lights up, and his own fantastic sense of humor comes into play. Their dynamic is what kept me in the story both times I read it, though the mystery of tracking down the attacker is also fairly engrossing. Plus, the plot twist at the height of the story had me reeling the first time I read it, even though there were times when I suspected I knew the answer.
Ashton writes with lushness when it comes to the internal workings of their protagonists. Some authors write incredible, atmospheric descriptions, some write first person perspectives that I actually enjoy, but Ashton crafts the landscape of the interior so beautifully. They write the emotions and thoughts of characters with intricacy and depth, and that is definitely where Echoes shines brightest. Plus, the scene where Aran and Oskar finally get it on? Mwah, magnifique. (Yeah, this is an adult romance novel, so keep that in mind!)
In short, Echoes is LGBT+ supernatural excellence, and you shouldn’t sleep on this book (Unlike Oskar, who is probably comatose while I write this review in broad daylight. Read the book and you’ll get my super lame vampire joke).
You can purchase Echoes at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or directly from Ninestar Press for $6.99 as an e-book, or $16.99 in paperback.
Writer, reviewer, bookseller, book nerd extraordinaire. Fiction reader at Waxwing Magazine.