Echoes by Jason Wolfgang Gehlert
When Bailey finds out her friends, a boy she has a crush on, are going to investigate a cave where a previous expedition went horribly wrong, she is excited until her enthusiasm is dampened at her parent’s request that she watch her teenage brother who has Down syndrome for the weekend.
As the teens enter the cave, strange occurrences, spirits, and echoes of voices strip away their sanity.
As each of the teenagers slowly erode, where complete madness swallows their psyche, and a mysterious presence threatens their lives, survival becomes a distant reality….
Everyone needs A Hero like William
As always Jason brings together engaging and related characters to an unsettling atmosphere. After reading the City of Madness I knew I was going to look forward to this one. A short story with many layers, bringing awareness to the dynamics and relationships with the other characters around William. I love how Jason brings awareness to Down syndrome, showing things from William and Bailey's perspective. So you get to learn how William copes differently to the situation in the cave compared to the other characters. How his coping mechanism gives a massive advantage in a survival scenario and being held captive. The whole story shows his condition as a strength rather than a weakness. Which for me is a great way to encourage confidence in those with Down Syndrome as he shows he has a better understanding of danger. Also, his ability to sign between him and Bailey gives the two an extra advantage in a dangerous situation. As they can communicate in their way, to come up with a plan. Which for me is a great survival technique that even I never considered. Plus we all know an asshole like Eric, who is just nasty to anyone better than them. I enjoyed the back and forth between Will and Eric because it shows how witty and confident William is. The great mix of characters with the situation out in the cave makes for a great story. The horror in this is very much psychological, using the elements to influence how each character reacts differently to the voices. This is fascinating because it almost explores a subtext of how mental health is different for everyone. The voices infected all of them but each one had an abrupt physical or mental reaction bringing out the inner darkness. William on the other hand has been fighting his whole life, against society, and people and came out fighting and protecting Bailey showing more of an inner light than inner darkness. Bailey and William's bond is not about codependency, it's about mutual respect and love. This is what held my interest in the story, as well as the great horror and gore aspects later on. This is a story that raises awareness, sure but it also empowers those with Down syndrome and I freaking loved it.
Let's Exlore A Cave
I've been a fan of Jason Gelhert for a while and this story doesn't disappoint. The characters are well drawn out, and you get sucked right in. Putting his main character as some one with Downs Syndrome gives an insight and something I'd like to see more of in the genre. Definitely a great read and I highly recommend it.