Dawn Hosmer’s The End of Echoes is a gripping story that weaves fictional lives with disturbing realities of abuse and torment. There are moments of harsh physical and psychological brutality that are deeply upsetting. The novel is emotionally raw but while the horror mounts, seeds of hope compel us to maintain our connection with many of the wonderfully drawn characters and urge them forward towards reconciliation and break cycles of misery and harm.
The story is told from multiple first-person perspectives, jumping back and forwards in time – before and after the 8 February 1989. This date is the occasion of the disappearance and brutal murder of a young teenage girl Chelsea Wyatt. Throughout the agonising wait to find her body, we feel the gripping nightmare paralyse her family, where ‘doing’ is not an option and all they can manage is to sink into despair, and ‘wait’. The personal impact when the body is discovered is heart-breaking and the spiralling collapse of family unity and individual self-destruction is masterfully portrayed.
Tom is Chelsea’s father he is a numbers guy, maybe slightly autistic in the way he relates everything to numbers and is obsessive about getting it right. I found the story from the father’s perspective really poignant and terrifying, as a father myself. It explores the irrational behaviour and erratic thinking that grief can have on the mind, which causes confusion and agitation with those around.
A second family background provides the other main thread in the story and we witness a mother and her two sons, Billy and David, severely abused by their husband/father. The many escapes and bewildering returns to this evil man leave the young boys despairing yet sensitive to their mother’s predicament. They have nowhere to run and they experience the evolving cruelty and develop their own tactics to navigate the threat. Inevitably the psychological turmoil the young boys face will change them as people with the most dreaded reality a possibility. You are just like your father!
The story signals the failings in our society where the support for abused women and children is seriously poor and feeds the opportunity for damaged people to grow up and cause their own damage. It’s also a deeper story that considers the resolve required, for some, to end the echoes of misery through the generations and end the cycle of violent behaviour. There is a restoring of hope in the story and empathy developed for many of the characters is a wonderful testament to their delicate crafting by Dawn Hosmer.
I experienced this book as an audiobook and the narration by Marnye Young was magnificent. Her ability to strike such emotional feeling into the story, particularly the dialogue, made this vividly real. I would like to thank Marnye Young and Dawn Hosmer for providing me with an audiobook copy of this book in return for an honest review.