“This book was really disappointing to me.”

~ Under the Covers

Echoes and Empires is set in a world where magic is forbidden and dubbed evil. It is a fantasy book that takes place in the modern world– it’s an eclectic mix of castles, paparazzi, queens, propaganda, guns, and also royal guards. Josslyn Drake is a seventeen-year-old privileged girl who is lonely and misunderstood. She attends a large event to support her best friend, Celina, who has a hard time being in the spotlight. At this event, she learns that the guy she’s been crushing on has been dating her best friend and is now her fiancé. Upset about this revelation, she gets drunk and roams the halls of the castle where she accidentally runs into a “mysterious” guy – Jericho. Jericho turns out to be a criminal thief who was attempting to steal a magic memory box that was accidentally opened and transferred into Josslyn. Josslyn and Jericho embark on a mission to get the magic back into the box and out of Josslyn. She is now running from her own people who would kill her because she is “tainted” with magic.

This book was really disappointing to me. The dialogue was bad, the world-building was choppy, it was very predictable, and the writing was cringy at times. Everything just felt so obvious and overly spelled out: it’s clear the author wants us to see Josslyn as a misunderstood sorority girl. She’s not all bad! She goes to an event that is emotionally hard to support her best friend but also she went to try to get laid by her crush – Viktor. She has to handle unfortunate events like learning Viktor will be marrying her best friend. Even though she has spoken to him a total of three times and uses cheesy pick-up lines like– wanna go back to my place; she is sad and besotted by this engagement. It’s too shallow for the reader to feel empathy for Josslyn and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to try and feel empathy or if the author wanted the reader to see her as spoiled.

Josslyn and Jericho had very little chemistry and instead of sexy banter, it felt like annoyed sarcasm. Josslyn, in my head, is Schitt’s Creek Season 1 Alexis Rose. She stays that way until the end but her growth is abrupt instead of a natural progression of understanding and maturing.

It honestly read younger than YA. I will say it does have some redeeming qualities. The premise is really interesting and I think it could’ve leaned more into its urban fantasy vibe. The characters all had a lot of potential and I could see them developing into characters that are well-loved. I would say skip this duology but would be interested in giving future Morgan Rhodes books a shot.


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