Title: The Echo in the Valley
Author: Zak Standridge
Publication Date: March 28, 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: 33 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 3 Stars
“What about you? Long after sunset and way past midnight, when you gaze into that dark forest… have you ever seen a light?”
Content Warning: Murder. I will not be discussing it in my review.
Some questions are so big even the Internet can’t answer them.
It’s fairly rare to watch characters age from childhood to adulthood in a short story, so I was thrilled to keep meeting the protagonists over and over again beginning with who they were in their preteen and early adolescent years. There were all sorts of wonderful little hints about how they’d grown and changed over time. Kel and Tim always retained those parts of their personalities that made them unique, though, and and I loved seeing how their true selves stuck around no matter how much everything else around them changed.
There was too much foreshadowing in this tale in my opinion. I figured out the twist in it pretty early on due to all of the hints that were provided about it. Since that twist was such a central part of the plot, I would have preferred to either work a little harder at piecing everything together as I read or have some other conflict to occupy my mind for the last two-thirds of the storyline instead. This is something I’m saying as someone who enjoyed this piece quite a bit and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys these genres.
I adored the open-ended final scene. While it included a basic explanation of what was happening in the woods every year on April 22 that so terribly confused everyone in their small, rural community in the Ozarks, it also left plenty of space for the audience to come up with our own interpretations about what this phenomenon meant and why it happened. This was the perfect approach to something that so easily defied any logical explanation. There was room for a sequel if the author ever decides to write one, but I also found myself quite satisfied with how all of the most important things were tied together in the end.
If you like paranormal stories, The Echo in the Valley might be right up your alley.