Between the Voice and the Echo

A Novel

Reviews

The following are three professional reviews from my entry in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

This multi-pronged novel weaves several stories together in a fashion that makes it difficult to determine what and whose reality is actually real, but nevertheless renders its illusory world intriguingly enough to entice the reader to try to keep up. Wabash, Ind., college student and library employee Chance Bresheare is intrigued when Gilley West presents him with her library card, which was issued in 1936. August LeVey is a private eye with no shadow and no reflection, which makes him appear two-dimensional. Dan Turner, a fictional Pulp detective, assumes an unwelcome reality in LeVey’s presence. Gilley lives alone in a remote farmhouse, alone except for the echoes, shadows and reflections which attend her. Here mirrors aren’t merely reflective surfaces, but (for some) are portals between two planes of reality. Likewise, the concept of shadows — the novel does begin, after all, on Groundhog’s day — is tweaked: shadows have lives of their own that impinge directly on the lives of the three (living) inhabitants of Gilley’s house. The author’s created a macabre and disturbing world where traditional concepts of reality, space and time don’t apply, bending abstract concepts in weird ways but with an impressive unity of vision. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but this novel has cult potential.

ABNA Reviewer

BETWEEN THE VOICE AND THE ECHO is a study in contrasts. We have an opening that features an elderly woman named Gilley. She lives on her farm and is about to celebrate Candlemas — alone. Or at least we think she’s alone. She sings along with another voice, but the voice seems to be ethereal and without a body. There’s mention of “Mim” — perhaps the deceased Miriam. Is it her voice?

From here we move to Jesse, a young boy who is kind and keeping a wounded black bird warm in a box. He learns from the librarian that no one should injure ravens because they symbolize King Arthur.

A third jump is made to Chance, a college-aged kid who is engaged in a little subterfuge at the library where he holds a part-time job while working full-time as a psychology major. Seems Chance wants information on some mysterious lady whose voice seems to come from the air in front of her as opposed to from her mouth. Thus, we circle back to Gilley.

How the author will tie these loose strands together is the impetus for reading on, but the reader might consider the writing itself the book’s calling card. The narrative includes some wonderful descriptive flourishes which neatly establish a sense of place. While the plot patiently tries to ground itself and move forward, the setting and word choice are at home and there to be admired from the start.

ABNA Reviewer

The first section, Gilley, is fantastically good. The writing throughout is beautiful and evocative. It seems to step down in stages from the dreamy Gilley section to college boy with daddy issues, like a depressing descent into banality. I am curious how all of these characters fold into the overall narrative. It’s also refreshing how each of the sections has a distinct voice. The August section is much different in tone and vocabulary than the Gilley section, etc. Very well crafted!

The setting uses sensory descriptions–always a plus! Characters are not just sitting like bumps on a log thinking or remembering–they’re doing something. Though the college kid’s walk home is a little overstretched–I’m not sure Wabash’s geography is a major player in the overall story.

One can see where the plot is going (a search for the old lady–Gilley, I presume) but not a clue at all as to how it ends up.

Enjoyable and with lots of promise!

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