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Echo After Echo

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Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared—for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; and for death in the theater.

Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater—and then another—especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole—and cast lantern light on two girls, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

432 pages, Hardcover

First published October 10, 2017

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About the author

Amy Rose Capetta

9 books23 followers
writes now as A.R. Capetta

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 271 reviews
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,174 reviews98.8k followers
October 10, 2017
“This is the Aurelia Theater. It feels like coming home.”

Echo after Echo is an own voices novel, that has such a beautiful f/f romance, surrounding a Broadway theater crew getting ready for opening night, while also trying to solve a murder mystery that may or may not be a curse set on the theater they all love and adore. I devoured this with a smile on my face. I was completely enthralled and immersed by this. I love this story with my entire being.

This theater crew has from November 5th to December 29th (opening night) to perfect the play, Echo and Ariston, which is a very reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. During this time, two murders happen, but everyone knows these things come in threes, so our main character is slowly trying to piece the puzzle together, while also trying to protect herself at all costs.

Our main character, Zara, is an eighteen-year-old girl, who has lived and breathed this play from a very young age. After she gets the leading role of Echo, she gives up her senior year of high school to move to New York and take a chance on making her dreams a reality. The other leading role of Ariston is played by Adrian Ward, an already very famous and good-looking male, where this is the first thing Zara has ever been in. So, she is constantly trying to better her acting and the play’s director, Leopold, easily directs her to do whatever he or his visions want from the play.

We are also met with a full cast of characters, where you will constantly be guessing who is committing these crimes, and who might be the next victim. Yet, the writing is so beautiful and haunting, you won’t be surprised in the slightest if the Aurelia Theater is just truly cursed.

Zara soon meets the assistant lighting designer, Eli, who makes Zara feels things she only thought were possible in the play she has grown up obsessed with. Yet, Leopold made Zara promise to only focus on the play and her opening night, while he also wants the media to believe in a budding romance between her and her costar, Adrian.

“But here’s the real truth: time doesn’t work in neat, predictable ways. It doubles over on itself. Finds new ways to hurt you.”

And this writing is so atmospheric and is truly a tier above most out there. I mean, I could have probably highlighted this whole entire book. The prose is nothing short of whimsical, even though this is a contemporary thriller. From the actual play being practiced, to the play that is constantly referenced, I am currently dying to see any and all productions of this play.

“But the feelings Zara has been chasing since the day she found that ragged paperback of Echo and Ariston are right here, in a girl who made herself out of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light.”

And the romance, oh boy, the romance. I was living for every scene with Zara and Eli, even though they are both too pure for this world and need to be protected at all costs. I think the reason I read this book so quickly was because I simply could not get enough of them and their perfect growing love. Zara coming to terms with her sexuality is a big part of this book and it really resonated within me, while also really hitting very close to home and how I felt when I was eighteen and realizing I wasn’t straight. I think the bi representation was amazingly done and made me feel all the feels.

“But girls touch each other all the time. Girls have intense friendships that have nothing to do with wanting to tear each other’s clothes off.”

And the diversity is also outstanding. Zara is on the page bisexual (be still, my heart) and Jewish. There are wonderful discussions about how she feels living in a world that predominately celebrates Christmas in December, and it was really insightful and heartwarming. Eli is a lesbian, Puerto Rican, and grew up Catholic. Adrian is that typical, everybody loves me, straight, white guy, but he also talks about how he is Dyslexic and suffers from ADHD. Seriously, this is a well written diverse cast that I really loved and appreciated.

Trigger Warnings for mention(s) of: eating disorders, rape, and suicide.

I loved this. This would be such a perfect fall or winter read. I mean, I could read Broadway murder mysteries about girls loving girls all year round, but I do think this is going to feel ever more perfect for its October 10th release. This story is absolutely beautiful and such a shining light among 2017 publications! I recommend this with my whole heart and hope you pick it up come this fall.

“There is always an imperfection in beauty, some flaw or surprise to remind you that it’s real.”

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,096 reviews17.7k followers
March 9, 2019
The thing I keep coming back to about Echo after Echo is the sheer power of the writing. Almost everything about this book is awesome, but the writing is stunning. It is "I will remember this for the rest of my life" stunning. I genuinely do not remember the last time I read a book written so beautifully. I wanted to highlight every other sentence but I didn't want to put it down because it was so. fucking. engaging. I am going to read every single thing Amy Rose Capetta publishes for the rest of her life. You can't stop me.


♔ OH MY GOD THE LEADS. Zara and Eli are both such well-developed and compelling characters. Zara is a surprisingly down-to-earth daydreamer desperately attached to her play. Eli is the more cynical of the two, with a passion for lighting and a deep love of the theater.

Also, quick note about diversity - our two leads are a chubby Jewish bi girl who states that she's bi on the fucking page and a Puerto Rican lesbian with short dyed hair. Okay, okay, I just loved them both so much and I'm so happy about the rep being so good.

God, the romance??
Echo wants Ariston so quickly and so completely because she’s already fallen in love. She’s been hollowing out a place inside herself for years —and he fits.

I've been thinking a lot recently about how to make a fast-flowing romance work, and I think this book has given me the solution. Up until now, the only instaromance I've ever truly loved has been that of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone. You know what those books have in common? They establish why these two characters could possibly fall so fast. Here, we explicitly see the loneliness of the romantic leads, how they both want someone in their lives. Instalove isn't bad because it's instant - it's bad because it's unbelievable.

And okay, yes, sometimes instalove is bad because it's forced, but trust me - this was not forced. LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT STATUE SCENE. LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT LIGHTING SCENE. Zara and Eli have so much chemistry. There are so many tiny moments where you can feel the heart-arresting sensation of first love. The writing is just that vivid.

[follow laya for more Extremely Gay Art!!]

♔ I liked the And Then There Were None-esque whodunnit aspect. Echo after Echo builds up so many different characters that it's hard to know where to turn for suspects. Yet in a strange way, you don't want the culprit to be any of them. Not after the buildup. There's Roscoe, the eccentric soundboard operator. There's Etta, washed-up dame, and Carl, her first husband. There's Kestrel, Zara's bitter and mysterious roommate. There's Meg, the assistant director, and Adrian, the star-power male lead. And of course, there's the head of the whole show - Leopold, our mysterious director. I found all these characters super intriguing, and they certainly felt very developed for side characters

Art. I can feel Capetta's love for the theater world bleeding through the pages, and I am so freaking thankful for it. As a theater nerd myself, I've seldom felt the true joy and feeling of acting and performing conveyed so well.

♔ I touched on this a bit earlier, but I loved the parallels between the stage show and real life. The entire book just felt very meta and interesting due to all its symbolism. And thankfully, Capetta didn't feel the need to throw it in your face!! I've read several YA books recently that felt the need to explicitly run the reader through every single moment of symbolism, and damn, am I glad this book avoided doing that very thing. I felt far more respected by the author as a result.

♚ I do have to say that the pacing varied. This is very much a slow-burn novel, and I have to say that I never felt that true desperation to finish I'd expected in the latter half. It's not necessarily a bad thing - it just means more focus on character building - but it's something I wish I could've known going in.

VERDICT: There's so much I loved about this - the character arcs, the atmospheric writing, the theatrical aspects, the romance. God, it was just so good. I hope all of you get a chance to read this, because it is truly one of the year's gems.

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Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews192 followers
May 17, 2019
Echo After Echo is a f/f murder mystery set in a theater. I thought a book with a premise such as this couldn't be boring, but Echo After Echo had pacing problems, and that wasn't even the only thing that went wrong.

Even mystery books I didn't love - for example, Far From You and Dangerous Girls - took me half a day. I read 90% of my one true weird love A Line in the Dark in one afternoon.
Echo After Echo took me almost a week.

What I love about mystery books is that the tension keeps me reading even when the characters are as interesting as cardboard cutouts. But here? The pacing was all over the place, and the tension went with it. There are two deaths at the beginning, and then almost nothing happens (if not for relationship drama) until the very end. For most of the book, the main character isn't even trying to investigate what is happening. The ending was interesting, but again, after such a long build-up, it was definitely too short.

The only thing I liked was how this book challenged the idea that we need to support abusive, toxic men just because they make great art. Leopold, the director, is a predator, and I liked how the story dealt with him.

It's one thing to know what he'd done, and another to try to get people to believe. So many would find a way to ignore it. To put it in a little compartment in their minds and say, yes, he was a monster, but he made such beautiful things.

All the other characters were bland and forgettable. There's not much to Zara besides her love for the theater and for Eli, who is so flat she's not a character at all. She's just there, and their relationship had some cute moments, but nothing more.

The writing wasn't terrible; what I disliked the most was the combination of person and tense - third person present is usually a bad idea. It tires me quickly and it makes everything feel so distant.

If it hadn't been for the f/f relationship, this would have been a dnf. I always want to give a chance to f/f books until the end. Even when they have nice, quotable sentences like this one:

No way was she spending a season with the Italians and their stunning lack of deodorant.

...Thank you?
If you're wondering: no, it's not contradicted in text, and yes, that characters is kind of insufferable but did you need to have this in your book? Like... can you not?
And then the book coded the villainous character as aromantic. Great. No, I don't think it was intentional, but it would have been so easy not to do it.
December 4, 2017

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🌟 I read this for the Yule Bingo Challenge, for the category of Nagini: Book with betrayal. For more info on this challenge, click here. 🌟

"An art monster is someone who gives his entire life over to creation" (207)

Finally! An F/F YA romance with substance!

Zara is a teenage actress who moves to New York when she finds out she's received the role of Echo, in the play Echo and Ariston. She's instantly blown away by the glamor of New York, the opulent Aurelia Theater, and the experience and sophistication of her coworkers and fellow actors, one of them, her co-star, being a famous Hollywood A-lister trying to score more gravitas.

Hanging over the play, however, is a curse: many people working both on and off the stage have died in the Aurelia Theater. Zara is unlucky enough to see the lighting director fall to his death during her first week. The curse is an open secret among those who work in the theater and yet everyone is curiously reluctant to talk about it.  As if that weren't creepy enough, the director of the play, Leopold, is super creepy and extremely menacing, with his devotion to his visions approaching something that looks a lot like insanity -

and abuse.

The story is told from multiple POVs, which is normally something I don't like or find too distracting, but it's done fairly seamlessly here, with one melding into the other. I was also pleasantly surprised by the large cast of characters, all of them very interesting and unique, even if they're not all likable. I loved the mystery aspect, and how each POV was used to hint at more; it never felt like the author was just trying to bolster the page count by packing the book with more people - each new POV added new information, and I was interested in what they had to say.

Lastly, the writing and the love story were just excellent. This is what Elliot Wake tried - and failed - to do with BLACK IRIS. Both have lovely passages of writing, but ECHO AFTER ECHO is never bogged down by its prose, and the actual story is never relegated to the background while the metaphors wallow in their own self-importance. The love story between Eli and Zara was just passionate enough to encapsulate the be-all and end-all of teenage passion, but not so corny that it had me rolling my eyes in disgust and going, "Really? Did you read that off a candy heart?" This is a slow burn romance between two imperfect people who sometimes hurt each other and sometimes make selfish decisions (I wanted to smack Zara at one point), but ultimately love conquers all.

The only flaw is that - sometimes - the pacing was a bit too slow, and I'd have to set the book aside and go off and do something else. I considered marking this book as did-not-finish for a while but luckily the plot picked up around 207 (when the murder mystery becomes more focal in the story line). This book is long, 400+ pages, and I'm not entirely convinced that every word was necessary.

Aside from that, I really enjoyed this book. I would read more from this author.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

3.5 to 4 stars
Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
917 reviews283 followers
May 1, 2018
It's so rare to find a book where the main characters are LGBTQ and their love story isn't engulfed in stigma or cultural acceptance. For me what makes Echo After Echo so wonderful is that at its core it's a love story that is not contrived, forced or surrounded in stigma.

The Love Story
Perhaps this will not make sense to some, but I just have to say that for me (a bi-sexual woman), it is so refreshing to read a story where a woman falls in love with another woman and the basis of that love has nothing to do with discovering their sexuality, determining their 'preference' or even circumstance. Instead it's just an easy, natural love story. Whether it was between two women, two men, or a man and a woman it wouldn't matter. It's clear that Amy Rose Capetta has experienced true love and understands that it's not about what type of person you fall in love with but who. The actual person and personality of that person, not their sexuality. It has so much less to do with gender than most people are likely to understand. Capetta takes this knowledge she has and translates it to the reader in a natural and perfect way.

The Theatre
Having never had the desire to be an actor (of any kind) I was concerned that Echo After Echo would be too 'theater-y' for me. In the past I've read stories where knowing or caring about theatre culture or the culture of whatever niche group is involved have been all encompassing and made the book dull. That is definitely not the case here. While you may learn a number of things about the theatre including: auditioning, lighting, rehearsals, memorization, costuming, etc., the only really important thing to know is that this group of theatre folks is very close to one another, like family. I would compare the theatre portion of the book like the ballet in Black Swan, while important it could easily be replaced by any niche, professional group and the core story would not change.

The Mystery
I'm not big into reading murder mysteries and certainly that is not why I was interested in Capetta's story. However here the murder mystery side of the story, while very relevant to the overall plot arc and our lead gal's character development, is not the focus of the story. Whether you determine any part of the mystery out in advance is mostly irrelevant (until the last couple chapters). As at its core, Echo After Echo is a story of a teen acting on her dream and falling in love where love wasn't looked for and may not be safe to engage in.

I'd easily have give Echo After Echo 5 stars just for it's brilliant love story. However I can also say that at no time did I want to put it down, or avoid picking it back up. It's a solid read that I think almost anyone can enjoy. Because it hits on many different novel genres I believe there is something here for anyone that may want to find it.
I truly hope that many people pick this up without knowing it's a LGBTQ love story and find themselves suddenly enamoured with Capetta's brilliant story only to realize much later that the love story was between two women (and that maybe there was relevance to their lack of 'noticing'). Capetta has truly done her community justice by creating a love story that is irrefutable and genuine.

For this and more of my reviews please visit my blog at: Epic Reading

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Iris.
556 reviews254 followers
June 8, 2019
This book. This book this book this book.

I swear this book saw into my very soul. I mean sure it was a really dark, twisted af murder mystery, but the characters. Zara and Eli just,,, <3

I related so incredibly much to both of them. Like holy shit. And not just the whole queer theatre kid thing (although that too) it was just,,, something deeper than that. There were so many lines that resonated so deeply with me, about theatre, about love, about family, and life, about queerness, about everything.

I didn't expect this book to hit me so hard. But holy shit it hit me hard.

(Also yeah, my sapphic self *was* really fucking happy to see queer theatre girls)
Profile Image for Janna.
311 reviews297 followers
July 7, 2022
This was such an intriguing, atmospheric read. It's written from 3rd POV and while it's mostly focused on Zara, we also get chapters written about other characters.

The book is even structured like a play with acts and scenes and all the ups and downs of theater plays!

There's Jewish, lesbian, bisexual and gay representation. Throughout the book, Zara is coming to terms with her bisexual identity, though it is never a big reveal and there really isn't a lot of queerphobia present in this book anyways.

I'd probably choose to read this book in autumn next time, it doesn't really give the biggest summer vibes, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.

If you're already planning your autumn TBR, I'd definitely recommend this book. A secret relationship, mysterious murders, sapphic investigators and lots of drama are waiting for you!
Profile Image for Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries).
1,248 reviews393 followers
February 11, 2021
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I got from the publisher as a reviewer for YA Books Central.
*Eli is Puerto Rican, Zara is culturally Jewish
*Eli is a lesbian, Zara is bi, and there are plenty of queer side characters

Much like we now own every rainbow in existence, queer people own the world of theater. We may not always be visible, but we're definitely there. (I'm always in the audience. I may be ridiculously dramatic, but I can't act in front of a crowd to save my life nor reliably work backstage.) If you've been waiting around for a theater book starring queer girls--because the gay guys who make up the G in QUILTBAG get almost all the queer rep--you've got that rep now in Echo After Echo and it is good.

Something tells me more than a few actresses could read this book and say afterwards "yep, some of this is 100% accurate." Zara's audition for the role of Echo in Echo and Ariston on Broadway sees her get the part regardless of her lack of experience and in the weeks leading up to her moving to New York City, she develops a close relationship with Leopold, the show's director. I think you already know what kind of things he inflicts upon Zara, like propositioning her and trying to control her offstage and generally being a massive creep.

That is honestly just the start of how awful Leopold is as a person and how many lives he's wrecked. Trust me, there's a lot more. (Honestly, I did not plan to focus on this, but look at the entertainment industry's wave of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault allegations against so many major players. Echo After Echo knew what was going on in Hollywood as well as on Broadway.)

But Zara and Eli, our two main characters, share the majority of third-person POV duties and their unfolding romance is the real focus of the story. Though Zara worries Leopold will find out when he explicitly told her not to get into a relationship because he thinks he has that right to dictate her love life, something else looms: the curse on the Aurelia, the theater where Echo and Ariston is performing.

Through stellar writing and an incredible sense of atmosphere, the Aurelia is practically a character itself whispering into Zara's ear about what's happened within its walls. For a century, every production there has been cursed with accidents and deaths. The curse, according to the rumors, always comes in threes and it always ends on opening night--and from the looks of it, the death of the lightning designer Roscoe is just the first curse incident out of three.

Though there's no one living in or under the theater making these things happen, Echo After Echo has a very Phantom of the Opera feel to it as it builds up to the second strike--another death--and third strike of the curse. The strong characterization of Eli and Zara ups the tension as well, making you worried the third strike might fall upon one of them.

At 432 pages, Echo After Echo is a bit too long, however. There's a significant lull in events during the book that may make you put it down for a while. Though I love when Ariston's actor Adrian Ward gets POV sections that strengthen his characterization, he's a minor player in the overall story. The climactic scene sees everyone of note involved somehow, but Adrian is the least involved of all. All he does there is give a letter from Zara to Eli! Though he's characterized like a main character, he's very nearly a bit player.

Echo After Echo is an intelligent, dark, and haunting book starring gay girls who get their happy ending, the wonderful and terrible world of theater, and the possibility of a curse. You shouldn't need to hear anything more to convince you of this book! Skipping it means missing out on one of the most memorable, atmospheric settings of the year and so much more.

Also, Echo After Echo confirms that mediocre and highly predatory white men are a plague upon the arts and must be gotten rid of. I think we're all in agreement on this thanks to Harvey Weinstein as well as everything and everyone that's been exposed since him. My choices of who should be next: Mel Gibson, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski. THAT'S JUST THE APPETIZER IN OUR ENDLESS FEAST ON THESE MEDIOCRE, ABUSIVE MEN.
Profile Image for bri (beforeviolets).
263 reviews771 followers
December 19, 2021

Thank you so much to Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I don't remember giving A.R. Capetta the rights to my biography??

This book follows a fat, queer, Jewish girl who moves to NYC to pursue theatre but ends up being manipulated and abused by a narcissistic and misogynistic director. (Like hello??? How is this not my life story??) Also the MC flirts by quoting Macbeth and mentioning God of Vengeance. I think I’ve been cloned.

Through the narrative of a theatrical murder mystery, this book takes a hard look at the misogyny and manipulation that occurs within theatre spaces, often by male directors and often to young women. It discusses grooming, sexual exploitation, fatphobia, and manipulation. It fantastically illustrates the way that most male directors use their role to exploit their power and traumatize others for the sake of their own artistic integrity. They convince young actors that theatre should be “uncomfortable” and train actors to gaslight themselves into silence, making them believe that they have to choose between their careers or their boundaries.

The specific villain of this story was SO well-written, because I literally know this man. I have known directors that have said some of his lines almost word for word and done some of his actions almost beat for beat. And I’ve known directors that have said and done even worse. I constantly found myself SCREAMING at the text about its terrifying accuracy.

Some of my favorite lines about this:
“He keeps changing the story so she won’t know what to believe - except for him.”

“It’s one thing to know what he’s done, and another to try to get people to believe. So many would find a way to ignore it. To put it in a little compartment in their minds and say, yes, he was a monster, but he made such beautiful things.”

“There’s an emptiness at the heart of his work. He has no idea how to tell a true story. He’s just following the pattern. That’s why he needs his actors to be hollow, to be his. He’s made a little set of puppets to play with, and he uses them to tell the same tired stories over and over again.”

It reminded me greatly of If We Were Villains in the way that it utilized theatrical tropes to emphasize the heightened reality that exists within the arts and to criticize the roles that people are forcefully placed into by those in power so that their role in reality is synonymous with their role as an artist. There is a lot of misogyny and homophobia and racism still very much present in theatre nowadays and this book felt like the perfect anthem to my rage.

The only thing I did not like about it was that I felt that after bringing up these issues and centering the story so much around them, they were essentially dropped at the end for the sake of wrapping up the murder mystery. I had been really hoping for a final message about the empowerment of women in theatrical spaces or a call to action but alas, I was left a little lackluster. However, the time that we did spend on them was MUCH appreciated.

Plus, did I mention it was sapphic?

TW: murder, death, violence, blood, grooming (on-page), adult/minor relationship, r*pe (past, mention), suicide (near attempt, on-page), suicidal thoughts, sexual harassment, emotional abuse/manipulation, drug use, underage drinking, fatphobia, sexism, misogyny, creepy male directors (cuz this should be a TW), sexual content (brief, on-page), grief
Profile Image for Aleksandra.
1,460 reviews
July 14, 2018
YA murder mystery with bisexual lead set in theater that you always wanted!
(at least that I wanted and I’m so happy with this book!)

Echo After Echo is a standalone novel about young actress Zara getting the lead role in Echo and Ariston play in famous New York theater. We follow the production of the play, rehearsals and backstage activities. On the first day, the light designer dies and things get worse from their.
It’s difficult read, the author doesn’t glamorize the realities of theater life.

Zara is Jewish bisexual chubby aspiring actress. I loved reading the story from her pov. She has strong presence, her arc is about growth and setting her priorities and boundaries. I love that the story shows career-driven young woman who, in the end, doesn’t have to choose between her love life and her professional life. You can have both, there never should be this absurd choice.

The romance is swoon-worthy and well-developed. The love interest is Puerto-Rican lesbian Eli, she assistant light designer, she’s romantic, strong-willed and smart. I like her as much as the main character. The book is written from multiple povs and Eli’s pov was always interesting to read from. The romance between Eli and Zara was great, I was rooting from them with my whole heart.

The cast of Echo and Ariston consists only of white actors and the protagonist addresses it, highlighting this situation and showing the one more terrible side of the director.
Apart from Zara and Eli, there’s gay older actor Toby.

The book showcases the damage by abusive men in position of power. These men cover their abuse by pretense of their genius, by pretense of doing it for the art.
This situation has to stop. The lasting effects of the abuse they perpetrated are of all shapes and sides. In light of MeToo movement and news about the abuse by those men, the book is even more raw, relevant and important.

Despite all of the ugliness, the story has positive supportive relationships between the actors. I like the development of Zara and Kestrel, Zara and Adrian dynamics.

The novel is well written, it hooks you from the first page and maintain the tension till the last page.

All in all, I definitely recommend this gripping novel with compelling characters!

CW: rape, depression, drug and alcohol abuse (mentioned); gaslighting, manipulation
Profile Image for Marianne (Boricuan Bookworms) .
809 reviews403 followers
May 9, 2018
Around 3.5/5 stars? This is a murder mystery set in a sort of greek tragedy play with... a f/f romance between a fat jewish bisexual actress and a PUERTO RICAN lesbian lighting assistant and W O W. I had my doubts about it at first because the pacing seemed very slow and I wasn't sure what was going on, but after it passes the 60% mark things kind of start falling into place and there are a lot of red herrings but the romance!! Wow the romance was so sweet and angsty without being bad or tropey and I just ate it up I loved their romance so much wow!!

Trigger/Content Warnings: mentions of sexual assault/rape, fat phobic comment, transphobic comment, mention of intolerant family, mention of dead bodies, death, non-gory violence, invasion of personal space

I definitely will write a full review to sort out my thoughts because there is so much more that I want to say.
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,551 reviews903 followers
October 15, 2017
This was really different -- in a good way -- and I hope I can convince others to try it. It's a story about role-playing - both in relationships and on the stage. It's a really sweet f/f love story. It's also a murder mystery.

And as I read it I couldn't stop thinking about Harvey Weinstein.

Why? Check out my blog review here!

Read more of my reviews on JenRyland.com or check out my Bookstagram!

I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher for possible review.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,212 followers
October 25, 2017
The romance between Zara, a bisexual who names her identity powerfully, and Eli is really great. The setting is engaging and exciting, and I love the whole idea of a teen leaving home early to follow her theater dreams.

But the mystery was so weak and felt really shoved in. I never got a sense of Leopold beyond a stereotypical skeezy director. I think this could have been an awesome romance OR an awesome mystery, but bringing them together just didn't work. It was overlong and unfortunately, it under delivered.

I will say this much: Capetta's writing is gorgeous. Which is part of why it bums me that the story didn't work.
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews112 followers
February 1, 2021
3.5 stars

I really loved the writing style in this book. It definitely brought an added layer of atmosphere to the story and I really loved the choices Capetta made regarding the writing. I also thought Zara as a main character was a really good choice and I loved seeing her development over the course of the story! I also really loved her romance with Eli and the amount of Yearning in it. Yearning theater sapphics are something that is very personal to me and I adored reading about them!!

I will say I was less on board with the mystery aspect of it all, because I could never tell which direction Capetta was trying to take it in, but I ended up guessing the big twist halfway through the book anyway, which kind of took away from the impact the ending was supposed to have on me.

That said, I thought the exploration of more serious topics, like sexual assault and sexual harrassment in the entertainment industry was something that was handled really well through the lens of this mystery. I really appreciated the care with which Capetta approached this subject.

Overall, I think this is a very good theater sapphics story, even if it didn’t really feel like a great mystery story to me! I feel like there is a very specific group of people who will fall in love with this story, but I just wasn’t one of them.

trigger warnings: mentions of eating disorders, references to rape/suicide, references to substance abuse, drug overdose, murder, attempted murder, drowning, depictions of blood, sexual harassment
rep: bi MC, Latinx sapphic LI, queer side characters
Profile Image for Kelly.
500 reviews
November 10, 2018
Argh, that was great! Everyone should read it. Since I'm awkward and couldn't decide, I'm leaving the rating as 4.25 stars.
Thanks to Elise for being excited about this book last year and putting it on my radar! :) <3
Profile Image for Megan.
1,225 reviews71 followers
March 28, 2018
Literally, the first word that comes to mind when I think about this novel is 'adorable'. Zara is adorable. Eli is adorable. They are bloody adorable together, and I think my stone-cold heart nearly burst from the sheer cuteness of it all.

It took a little bit of effort to get into the writing style at the beginning of this one, but once I managed to settle in, then I was pretty much hooked. I loved the concept of the novel, I loved how quickly I became defensive over characters, and I loved how this was such a joy to read.

Not going to lie, the ending was a little bit rushed, confusing and a tiny bit unsatisfactory, but the rest of the novel more than made up for it. This is definitely one to be recommended.
Profile Image for Stella ☆Paper Wings☆.
538 reviews46 followers
February 21, 2018
Wowww this book took me completely by surprise!! I picked it up for the romance and got invested in the mystery. I also just went to a (pretty gay!) women's march this morning, so this was the perfect book for the day! It's super timely and much deeper than I expected.

Zara is such a powerful, precious squishbean!! And says she's bisexual on👏 the 👏 page!👏 Eli is hilarious and beautiful, and, and, and, they just broke my heart, y'all. The side characters are all interesting, too! They're all flawed and multifaceted, and they're all suspects... *insert suspenseful piano here*

SOOOO cute! And I was so tense in all those moments when Eli is wondering if Zara's straight or not, and in her head Zara's thinking, "I want to kiss you now." And in reality she says, "Did you know the first kiss between two women on Broadway was in a Yiddish play in the 1920s?" I want to squish these rainbow children.

It was a very complicated, gripping mystery! But I was able to predict the killer about halfway through the book...? Should I consider it a sign that I read too much? (Just kidding! I WILL NEVER EVER READ TOO MUCH! I NEED ALL THE BOOKS! AH HAHA HAHA HAHA HA... HA. Ha.)

☆Final Thoughts☆

Favorite Quotes:
"Let's start at the beginning. God created men and women and trees and snakes and it got very nasty for a bit. Skipping forward—I was a grocery boy here in New York. I craved the spotlight. Not quite Faust. Faust's gay cousin. Someone should have slapped me and said 'Go back to your cabbages!' But there are no time machines and hindsight is a know-it-all prick."

"I have this theory... I think that acting is about finding keys for whatever is locked up inside the play. So I'm always looking for things that fit just right. Once you start paying attention, you see that most of life is a wrong fit. And then it's hard because you want this thing that you don't have, this thing that might not even exist."

This is Echo, she thinks. This is exactly like Echo.The smile that comes to her lips turns sharp. Zara promised herself that she would be able to feel this without putting either of them in danger. But this is the story—this has always been the story."
Profile Image for ellie.
549 reviews161 followers
March 27, 2018
This book. Where do I start? Oh, of course. The writing. The incredibly beautiful writing that had no business being this beautiful when it was talking about a mystery set during a play. It's like...Phantom of the Opera, but without all the dramatic singing. There's still a murderous, complex man, but he doesn't really love anyone, and he doesn't wear a mask. But the whole vibe of this book fits that story, you know? But wait. Let me back up. Let me show you how beautiful the writing is:

"Once I had everything, and it felt like nothing. Now I have nothing, and I am filled."

It felt like every time she took a step, every time she spoke, the world was about to tremble and change.

I have done your bidding these many years, but this I will not do. I have no reason to stay here and a world of reasons to go.

"This is what we do. We push on. At the Aurelia, we stop for nothing, not even death. Perhaps it is most important to be making art when death is all around. This is when we need the perfect story."

I think the strongest and the weakest point of this book is the writing. It's beautiful, heart-wrenching, and emotional at times, but it breaks apart any notion of a tone that the book could have. That's two words I would use to describe the story: beautifully confused. It's as if it doesn't know if it wants to be about the character growth of this young actress struggling in New York City with the expectations of her director or a dark mystery that unfolds over the chapters.

I genuinely thought the first was going to be the story: I was so invested in the character and her struggles, but then it became about collecting clues and I was just pulled abruptly from her story and her thoughts. I disconnected with her as we get a myriad of other perspectives - which is good for the mystery aspect, but not for the focus on a single character. So when we came back to Zara, I was like, "Wait, what were you troubled about again?" But still. My heart is weak. I loved Zara and Eli, their passion for the theater, and the writing too much to give this anything other than 4. It's okay, though. I think I will read more from this author, I just want a little more consistency! But it's fine.

p.s. i totally predicted the ending so that maybe kind of ruined the mystery element the book tried to tackle on
Profile Image for Shay McClean.
29 reviews10 followers
July 7, 2017
It's an LGBTQ love story / murder mystery set in a theatre on Broadway. IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT THAT SENTENCE THAT ISN'T AWESOME
Profile Image for joanne.
264 reviews52 followers
July 6, 2021
"Perhaps it is most important to be making art when death is all around. This is when we need the perfect story."

Profile Image for kayleigh.
1,734 reviews89 followers
January 27, 2019
4 stars.

“But here's the real truth: time doesn't work in neat, predictable ways. It doubles over on itself. Finds new ways to hurt you.”

Echo After Echo follows Zara Evans, who has come to the Aurelia Theater, home of the incredible director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When Leopold asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it's easy to say yes. But it's hard not to be distracted when there's a death at the theater—and then another—especially when Zara isn't sure if they're accidents or murder, or just a curse that always comes in threes. It's also hard not to be distracted with Eli Vasquez as the lighting director. It's also hard for the girls to not fall in love with each other.

So, I read The Brilliant Death in December of 2018 and absolutely fell in love with it and Amy Rose Capetta became one of my all time favorite authors. I was a little hesitant to pick up Echo After Echo for that reason—I didn't want to be disappointed. But I can happily say this book lived up to every expectation I had for it. I loved the story and all of these characters truly captured my heart. Capetta has some of the most beautiful writing I've ever experienced—it's so captivating and haunting, and so easy to get lost in the world and characters she's expertly created. Also, Zara is a bisexual Jewish girl, and my God, I was so happy with that representation for both being bi and Jewish. By far my favorite character in this book, and I was genuinely so ecstatic about her the whole time.

“Echo wants Ariston so quickly and so completely because she’s already fallen in love. She’s been hollowing out a place inside herself for years—and he fits.”

Listen, I complain about instalove all the time. In all forms. I don't care if the romance is f/m, f/f, m/m, or anything in between—I don't like instalove and I don't want to see it. And that's what Zara and Eli's relationship ended up being. That being said, it was done so, so well, and I absolutely loved it. Which, believe me, says a lot. It was never forced and it was so believable, especially considering the themes of loneliness presented in both of these characters. I wasn't sure how much I was going to love a romance between a Jewish girl and a girl who grew up Catholic (for, uh, obvious reasons?), so let me say, because of that, it was even more surprising for me to end up loving it so much. Capetta did a wonderful job with these two and I loved every second of it.

Overall, I loved Echo After Echo. The story was excellent, the characters were all so well written and wonderfully done, and Amy Rose Capetta's writing is so beautiful. I was captivated and engaged from the very first page, and I really wish this book ended up being longer than it was, because I didn't want it to end. I'm glad Capetta continues to be one of my favorite authors, and I can't wait to pick up another book by her soon.

“This is what we do. We push on. At the Aurelia, we stop for nothing, not even death. Perhaps it is most important to be making art when death is all around. This is when we need the perfect story.”
Profile Image for Savannah.
159 reviews
November 1, 2017
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way effects my overall rating of this book.

This is shamefully the first book I’ve ever read with a f/f relationship as the main focus. I’ve read books with female couples on the side but not as the center focus of the story. That’s the main reason I decided to read this book since I’ve never read it before.

The book also follows a young actress trying to make it in the theater world, another topic I haven’t read about. On top of all of that there’s also the mystery of crew members dying in ways that make it seem like accidents.

So basically I was really excited to read this book since it ticked off a lot of the boxes of books I haven’t read before – something I’ve been trying to do this year. I’d like to say that I really enjoyed this book. It did take me about 50-100 pages to get engaged in the story, but once I was I couldn’t keep my eyes off the book!

Our main character Zara is bisexual and has been obsessed with the Greek play, Echo and Ariston, most of her life. When she auditions and get the part as the title character Echo at one of the biggest theaters in the world, she is ecstatic. But. Then people start dying and she doesn’t think that they’re accidents like they’re made to look.

“People who truly need to hurt you don’t make a show of it. They find quiet ways.”

I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of this book because although there was also a romance plot and the entire play going on, Capetta was able to evenly distribute each part of this story throughout the novel. She never gave away too much to where you could figure out who was murdering the crew members but she also didn’t keep the readers completely in the dark, as she switched perspectives.

That’s also something I really liked about this story, the multiple point of views. This book was written in third person, which worked well for the way she told the story. We had Zara’s point of view, Eli’s, Leopold’s, and nearly every other member of the theater crew’s as well. Every person had a secret that you kept on trying to guess as you read.

The relationship between Zara and Eli felt a bit rushed to me, as there weren’t very many memorable interactions between them before they decided that they liked each other, which I didn’t like all that much because something I always look for in a romance is growth and slow build. But when the girls were actually together my heart fluttered with them. I absolutely loved their relationship and I thought it was written very well. I think this might be because this book is an own voices book.

“Being an actor is all about finding keys from the real world that open imaginary locks.”

As much as I think the characters were great and uniquely fleshed-out, I felt a disconnection from myself and Zara. This might be due to the third person it was written in but I could never quite connect with Zara during any moments of the book, which is sad because I really wanted to.

That aside, I loved the diversity in this book. Zara, like I mentioned earlier, is bisexual, though Eli is the first girl she’s been with. She’s Jewish as well! Eli is Puerto-Rican and gay. There’s also a side character that’s gay. Though the diversity was great and I thought it was written perfectly, I wish there had maybe been more.

The plot moved at a perfect pace but by the end I felt like there should have been more closure. The ending shocked me even though I probably should have seen it coming. There were a few loose ends that weren’t tied up like I wish they had been – it would have only needed another 5 pages or so.

Overall a really great read if you’re looking for something mysterious and gripping, but light and fluffy at times. If I weren’t such a slow reader I would have been able to breeze through this in a mere day or two.

TW for mention(s) of: suicide, eating disorders, rape, homophobia

For more reviews and bookish stuff, visit my blog here
Profile Image for Starlah.
393 reviews1,588 followers
January 1, 2020
Echo After Echo is a female/female romance, murder mystery set in a theater in New York. With such a premise and after reading Amy Rose Capetta's The Brilliant Death, I was sure that this story couldn't be boring. I was wrong. Three stars is honestly a bit generous; this was probably more like a 2.5.

The biggest problem I had with this story, was it's pacing. This story took me NINE DAYS to finish. I finally had to sit down and basically force myself to finish it, so that I could move on with my reading. To me, what makes a great mystery book, is the consistent tension that keeps me on my toes and wanted to read more. This story pacing was all over the place, and with it, the tension. There are two deaths at the beginning of the story, and then nothing happens again until the very end - except for some relationship drama. Also, until the very end, our main character, Zara, isn't even trying to investigate what is going on. I predicted the ending, which is always unfortunate in a mystery story, but it was still interesting. Yet still, after such a looong build-up, it was MUCH too short.

All of the characters were bland, boring, and forgettable. Zara is basically defined by her love for the theatre; I can't think of anything else about her after 421 pages. Eli is so flat; she is a cardboard cutout of a character. I appreciate her being Latinx but that didn't add anything to the story. Eli was just there to be in a relationship with Zara. Their relationship was insta-lovely. It had a couple cute moments, but didn't really have anything more to it. Honestly, if it hadn't been for the female/female romance, I probably would have dnf-ed this.

The writing style is beautiful, something I really liked in The Brilliant Death, but I didn't really like the third person, present tense. I felt like the book was too long for this combination of person and tense. And it started to make the story and characters feel distant.

The only thing I really like in this story was how it challenged supporting men who make great work but are abusive and toxic. Leopold, the director for the play, is a predator. He is an abusive older man who uses his status and power to control and hurt people. I was feeling weird and awkward in the beginning with how Leopold's character was being written and his interactions and relationship with Zara, but as the story progressed, it was addressed.

I'll still read more by Amy Rose Capetta; I understand that this was her debut novel, and it had potential but also a lot of areas for improvement. Her most recent story, The Brilliant Death, was one I enjoyed MUCH more and am excited for what she has coming next.
Profile Image for Nicole Field.
Author 18 books144 followers
February 7, 2019
I wish I could remember where this book was recommended to me from. Probably one of the many f/f lists that I'm on. This book was equal parts be careful what you wish for narrative and the paranoia of a modern gothic novel. I'm not sure I would have read this one if I had found out what it was about before I picked it up.

Zara has only ever wanted to play Echo in the play Echo and Ariston. It's a tragic romance. She has never been in love before, but she lives through stories. I know a few people that could probably relate to this.

When she auditions at the Aurelia Theatre, she knows it's a long shot. She's nobody special. She's not as pretty as many of the others auditioning there. And yet, she gets a call back, and then specific calls directly to her from the director Leopold Henneman. She's got the part! Everything seems like it's coming up for Zara.

Except, when she arrives at the theatre to start rehearsals, it's to the death of Rosco, the lighting director. This casts a pall on her experience that she never quite manages to shake, not the least because bad things keep on happening, and the reason being 'the curse of the Aurelia Theatre' isn't quite enough to explain it all away on its own.

Even though this was a f/f romance, I want to do a quick shout out for Adrian who was a generally lovely character who had little do to with either the intrigues of the plot or the romance element. He was separate to the rest of the cast really because he was the big name actor and had to do time elsewhere before coming in to practice for his part as Ariston. His interactions with Zara were beautiful and confusing in the way that only inexperienced teens faced with a world bigger than they are can be.
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