Review: The Book of Whispers

The Book of Whispers by Kimberley Starr

3 stars

Read from 13 – 23 October, 2017

Synopsis: Tuscany, 1096 AD. Luca, young heir to the title of Conte de Falconi, sees demons. Since no one else can see them, Luca must keep quiet about what he sees, or risk another exorcism by the nefarious priest Ramberti.

Luca also has dreams—dreams that sometimes predict the future. Night after night Luca sees his father murdered, and vows to stop it coming true. Even if he has to go against his father’s wishes and follow him on the great pilgrimage to capture the Holy Lands.

Far away in Cappadocia, Suzan has dreams too. Consigned with her mute mother to a life in an underground convent, she has a vision of a brown-haired boy riding through the desert. A boy with an ancient book that holds some inscrutable power. A boy who will take her on an adventure that will lead to places beyond both their understanding.

Together, Luca and Suzan will realise their true quest: to defeat the forces of man and demon that wish to destroy the world.

Kimberley Starr is a teacher and author based in Melbourne. Her debut novel, The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies, won the 2003 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Best Emerging Author. She has a degree in mediaeval literature, and travelled through Turkey and Israel to research The Book of Whispers.

Bookish Things: 333 pages. The cover is lovely and a bit unique.

Where to buy: Amazon on kindle for $16.99 (paperback will only set you back $14.18).

My Review: 

The crusades are a rich and interesting time in our history. It’s a period in time that isn’t common among fiction writers (well not the ones I’ve read anyway).

Taking a little creative license, Kimberley adds a layer of the fantastical to an already intriguing and busy plot by adding demons.

The addition of demons to an already religion-charged story would always raise a few eyebrows, but despite there being a strong religious and spiritual backbone to the story, there were only a few times throughout that felt a trifle overwhelming. I expected there to be more instances of that.

The simple fact that a large chunk of this book is taken up by thousands of people walking thousands of miles, makes for a slow burn of a read.

Kimberley did well to intersperse the continuous travel with action and character development. But it’s not all roses.

I quite liked Suzan’s character, but felt like we only ever got half a look at her. She felt under developed and used as a crutch to carry the story.

Luca irritated me, Mattiolas was but a pawn to use to create drama and tension but little else, and don’t get me started on Serafina (she started out well but swiftly turned into a ditzy Princess who constantly needed to be saved!)

I also have concerns about how much negativity is heaped upon Suzan being the ‘ugly nun’ and how the men (and women) treated her with little more than open hostility. Is this book trying to talk to society’s trend of attributing goodness to beauty? If so, it doesn’t work. Instead, it feels forced and adds nothing to the story.

I did like Kimberley’s take on demons, particularly Thanatos and Percy. I’d have liked more on the demons and more female characters that held their own.

I was left with some questions that I feel deserved more closure than they got. Luca’s father, Suzan’s mother and Thanatos just to name a few.

Overall, this held my interest but only just. I feel more could be done to engage the reader and build a stronger story. It has interesting ideas and a fantastic historical backdrop, but it drops the ball and doesn’t live up to that strong setting.

**Note: I received an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

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