By Martin Lederle-Ensign
There’s something in the mist on Bitter Rock Island. Something that makes people disappear. Over the last century or so, dozens of people have vanished from the small, fog-enshrouded island off the coast of Alaska. Fifteen years ago, Sophia Novak’s mother was one of them, and Sophia is determined to find out what happened. In Our Last Echoes, by Kate Alice Marshall, Sophia sets out to solve the mystery of Bitter Rock.
Using a feigned interest in birds, a fake name, and good old fashioned gumption, Sophia accepts a summer internship at the avian research center on Bitter Rock (the island being home to a rare species of tern). There, Sophia meets a team of ornithologists, a plucky teen paranormal investigator, and the handsome son of the lead scientist. Everyone has secrets, no one can be trusted, and the spooky occurrences keep piling up, like the bird poop on the island’s rocky shores (it’s a plot point, not just a gross simile). Sophia and her trusty sidekicks set out to discover the secrets hidden in the mist.
Our Last Echoes is structured as a found-footage story à la The Blair Witch Project, and it’s full of suspense, twists, and supernatural scares. Like all good ghost stories, it’s really about memory, history, our place in the world, and spooky birds. Marshall weaves a good paranormal horror story, knows how to pace a thriller, and she peppers the story with just enough clues, questions, and mutant birds to leave the reader wanting more. Our Last Echoes is a solid horror story for fans of Stranger Things, Leigh Bardugo, and Neil Gaiman.