First off; the main character talks like a Jane Austen character while the setting is contemporary.
“Don’t worry about it, Boss, I can’t make out what she be sayin’ half the time, either.”
Well, how am I supposed to understand Echo if the other characters don’t? (Brilliant name though. Echo Japonica) There seems to be no point for her speech patterns and no convincing reason given.
Secondly: It’s a fantasy world of a white middle class arty lady with no interest in fantasy. Think pastel colours. I was given more music theory lessons than I ever received at school.
It’s a world where the world wars did not happen. A pure utopia where no bad things happen at all. Until they do. But comparing these happenings to the ‘real’ world (yours and mine, not the Echo’s) make them bland. It might be a disaster in her world, but it would be a slow news day for us. We get hints of how horrible Echo’s real world is, but that’s all.
And then a peculiar girl shows up and it becomes a story about finding family in strange places. It’s sweet and tender, even with the hint of danger. The relationship between Echo and Charity and Maxwell was done nicely. Honestly I think the whole fantasy dream world aspect was redundant and mostly annoying. It kept pulling me out of the story about these people trying to be a family and the difficulties they have.
It’s train of thought writing, so there is quite a lot of drifting off topic. And it does go on. It manages to run out of steam even with (spoiler warning) a gangster, a ghost and a terrorist cult. Even listing them makes it sounds less pastel than it is.