*** Not my favorite but it might be yours.

The main character is a boy throughout the book, but Echo, a girl, has just as strong a part.

About 190  pages.

Echo McCool:  Outlaw Through Time

by Roger K. Driscoll

In short: a magical girl from the distant past, trapped in a tree throughout centuries, is awakened by a boy to help avenge the murder of his mother and rescue his sister.

The story starts out with Echo’s story in the past.  Her entire family, rebels against powerful nobility (like Robin Hood and his band of thieves), have been killed, except for one sister.  Echo is half-dryad; her mother is one of the spirits of the trees.  Poisoned by a pursuer and near death, she hides inside a hollow tree.  The tree heals her, only to leave her sleeping for centuries.

Her distant relative, Jason Fleeting, has been orphaned and lives at a school after the murder of his mother, the disappearance of his father, and the kidnapping of his sister.  He’s playing in a tree when he falls out, conks himself on the head, and goes into a coma.  While in the coma, he’s visited by Echo’s dryad mother, who will help him find his sister if he rescues her daughter, Echo, whose tree is about to be cut down and cut into firewood…which will mean Echo is chainsawed in half.

Jason saves Echo, and the two of them go on the adventure of a lifetime to save his sister.

Good characters, very readable.  I had two things that bothered me to the point where I can’t give it a personal woo-hoo  of a rating.

One, there was a bit too much talking and explaining.  It was only in a couple of spots and I read past it, but I wished things had moved faster at times.

Two, I play some role-playing games.  One of the things that happens in those games is that you have to make sure that no one power is so strong that it makes the game unfair.  I think that Echo has such a power:  the ability to see anything that happens in the past, and to spend no time in the real world to do so.  That means in a story where there’s a mystery, like here (what happened to Jason’s sister?), the characters can instantly know the answer.  Sure, there’s a lot of adventure involved in actually rescuing his sister, but I was disappointed.  It felt like there was no chance that the bad guys would win, because the good guys always knew their secrets.  I like the illusion that the bad guys might win, even when I’m pretty sure they probably won’t.

This is not to say that it wasn’t a fun read, because it was.  Lots of fighting, adventure, sneaking around, getting blamed for things they didn’t do, and wearing amusing disguises.  A lot of kids liked the book a lot, and I can see why.  I just can’t say that I loved it 100%.

Book description (from Amazon):

Echo McCool is a magical, medieval girl with attitude. Don’t get on the wrong end of her jump kicks, flick-flaks and open-palm strikes. In her own time, Echo escapes death from a poisoned arrow and hides inside a hollow oak tree. She lies dormant for hundreds of years but in the present day she is awakened by Jason Fleeting, a twelve-year-old runaway from a children’s home. Together they set out to solve the murder of Jason’s mother and to rescue his kidnapped sister Lauren.

About Roger K Driscoll (from Amazon):

Roger K Driscoll lives in a little house near the old oak tree and disused railway line where he used to play as a boy in the 1970s. He believes that the most important part of any book is its reader. Without a reader, a book can never come alive. Please visit Roger’s website echomccool.com.

Click here to read the beginning of the book.

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