‘Echoes and Empires’: new breakout YA series?


Photo courtesy of Morgan Rhodes

Morgan Rhodes’ YA fantasty “Echoes and Empires” came out on Jan. 4.

D'Juanna Lester, Arts Reporter

The year has started off with a bang in terms of great books. I’ve already read eleven books so far, and today, I want to review my standout read for January: “Echoes and Empires.”

“Echoes and Empires” is a young adult (YA) fantasy by “Falling Kingdoms” series author Morgan Rhodes. In the first book in Rhodes’ newest fantasy series, the audience is introduced to headstrong Josslyn Drake. In the world of a highly esteemed empire, Joss is a character who grew up in a life of luxury, gossiping with her (fake) friends and attending the glorious galas of the infamous Queen Isabella. 

In this world, magic is illegal. Deadly. Looked down upon by everyone associated with the queen. When Joss gets caught up in a robbery at the Queen’s Gala that she’s attending with her best friend, she ends up getting infected with a dangerous piece of magic. 

Joss has to get rid of the magic as soon as possible. In order to do so, she enlists the help of a wanted criminal, Jericho Nox. The infuriating character offers Joss a deal, and she reluctantly agrees. The two embark on an adventure that takes Joss out of her privileged life of luxury and pampering inside of the city, and she gets the chance to explore the world around her, while learning more about Jericho, as well as magic itself. 

Where do I start with this book? First off, plot twists! There was a new reveal or something interesting getting discovered every few chapters. It’s one of those books that I couldn’t put down because I was anticipating what would happen next. 

There were so many twists and turns in this book that at some moments I had to pause and say “Did that seriously just happen? This poor character!” There’s something about this book that makes you desperate for a sequel, which I hope we’re getting. 

Throughout the story, we got to peel back layers of what seemed to be one-dimensional characters. We got to see who they are and also what led them to being who they are now. This was especially true with Jericho, the rugged male love interest to Josslyn. 

Jericho first seemed to be like every other YA love interest — a sad, lone wolf, attractive bad boy archetype that learns to love the main character after previously hating her. Throughout the book, we learn more about how heartbreaking his story is, and how he and Josslyn have more in common than previously thought. There’s so many different parts of the story that fall into place because of how well written the characters are. 

Rhodes has a way of writing a plot that had me engaged from beginning to end. In most YA books, it’s the characters that make me fall in love with a book, such as “Six of Crows” and “A Curse so Dark and Lonely.” This time, it was the plot that engaged me the most. I felt like the plot was complex but not difficult to keep up with. With the ambiguous ending, it only makes sense that there’s more to the story. I, for one, am really curious to see where it goes from here. I want to see how the plot advances the stories of these interesting characters.

Rating: 5/5 stars