Review Blog

Feb 08 2017

The Book of Whispers by Kimberley Starr

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Text Publishing, 2016. ISBN 9781925355512
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Text Prize for YA and Children's Writing (2015). Historical fantasy. Crusades. Demons. Tuscany, 1096 AD. Luca, young heir to the title of Conte de Falconi, sees demons but must keep quiet about them for fear of a repeat of the exorcism he suffered when very young. When his father decides to go on the crusade to free Jerusalem, Luca follows, carrying with him the Book of Whispers, which only he can open. With the help of Suzan, a beautiful young girl he rescues, he goes on a quest to defeat the evil that wants to take over the world.
This is the first book that I have read that has put a historically accurate version of the Crusades together with demons. Initially I found it rather difficult to reconcile the two, although the idea of demons fits in well with the beliefs of Christians at the time. However as the story progressed, the fight against the demons and the men that they dominated and the gruelling journey that the Crusaders took, takes over and becomes engrossing.
Luca and Suzan's story is narrated in alternate chapters by the two young people. By telling the story in the present tense, the author gives it an immediacy and veracity that sometimes makes for very difficult reading as there are many bloody and very violent murders of the Saracens during the sieges.
This is a memorable book that will make the reader think about the futility of war and the ugliness of religious bigotry. At the same time the adventure and mayhem that Luca and Suzan face will carry the reader through to the thrilling end.
Pat Pledger

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