Publisher: Lovecraft eZine Press
Publication Date: 29th November 2016
REVIEWED BY CHAD
A copy of Whispers was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Kristin Dearborn, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.
I should start with a disclaimer. I have never been much of a Lovecraft guy. That is not to say that I don’t like him. What little I have read, I have enjoyed. But my exposure has been minimal and as such, I don’t feel particularly conversant in his body of work.
Whispers, by Kristin Dearborn was inspired by Lovecraft’s novella, The Whisperers in Darkness. So, for anyone who is tuning in specifically to hear about this aspect, I am not in a position to evaluate how this book stands up when held next to the original source material that inspired it. I can only judge this on the merits of the story itself.
And as such, I found Whispers to be entertaining and enjoyable to read.
The story starts out simply enough, a woman (Sarah) has a young hitchhiker pulled into her life and along with it, all the drama and struggles that come with this stranger. She is pulled in multiple directions, to eject this girl from her life but also feeling the need to protect her from the darkness of the woods and the danger that lurks there. The things she seems to fear are vague at first but are quickly clarified for us in fine form.
Whispers had all the feelings of a fun romp for me. Dearborn does a great job establishing the dual struggles of the characters and of their separate outlooks. One thing I really liked was that it would have been very easy to portray the young girl as a hopeless victim but in here, she comes off as not only resourceful but also manipulative in a cunning fashion. I liked the feeling that, while she is clearly being victimized, you also aren’t sure if she really is a victim. I think this is where fiction is the most effective, where the characters are neither entirely good or entirely bad.
I thought that Dearborn did a good job establishing atmosphere and tension early on and the revelation of what was going on in the woods was definitely not one I was expecting. That said, I think I would have liked to have seen a little more, delving into Sarah’s past and how she knows so much about the creatures in the woods. In that sense, I had more of the feeling of being dropped into the action and I think the book could have felt stronger if that aspect had had more context.
There are also some characters that I thought were introduced a bit abruptly and could have benefited from being aired out a little. I would have liked to have seen a little more of Sarah’s standing in the community in order to help augment the story in the way it develops.
Despite these issues, I still found the book great to read as it unfolded, with just the right amount of action and suspense. She did a great job layering the story, and developing her stride in the narrative. There is a sharp edge to the story without going over the top with graphic content.
Novellas are a tricky balancing act. They’re short but not necessarily easy to write. You have to build more layers and texture than you might get from a short story but you also have much less space than in a novel, where you have pretty much whatever space you need to do whatever you want with the book.
Whispers is a good example of what novellas can do if effectively put towards the narrative purpose. They get in quick and take no prisoners and I think they have the potential to deliver the heaviest punch when it comes to darker themed literature.
If you are looking for a quick read that will make you think a little as well as entertain, this could be for you. If you enjoy a certain amount of mashup from one genre to the next, you should check out this book. And if you want a book with compelling and engaging characters, this could be a good choice for you. One of the biggest benefits for me of being with Confessions is to be able to be introduced to new authors.
I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Kristin Dearborn.
If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Whispers or any other books from Kristin. This not only supports us but also lets us know how many people actually like to buy books after reading our reviews.
A tale inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Whisperer in Darkness”…
Hurricane Irene tore through the dark, wood-choked Vermont hills. In its passing, the rivers bled thick with fallen trees, wildlife carcasses, and, if you looked closely, stranger things. Sarah Sorrell made the mistake of looking very closely indeed. Even so, it all might still have been all right—if she hadn’t felt the need to dig further.
One afternoon in late fall, she finds a girl out in the driving rain, running from brutality. The wise choice is to leave the girl to chance. But Sarah knows the secrets that the forests hide, and why so many hitch-hikers vanish around here. She decides to give the girl a lift. As the two of them drive off into the storm, they have no idea of the journey they’re starting out on…
A chilling novel of the deep Vermont night, WHISPERS draws on the rich traditions of H. P. Lovecraft to weave the darkest of spells.
“Another winner from Kristin Dearborn, WHISPERS is full of monsters and mayhem, madness and paranoia, but also boldly realized characters who live and breathe and feel like flesh-and blood. Highly recommended . . . now bring on Dearborn’s next one!”
–James Newman, author of ODD MAN OUT, ANIMOSITY, UGLY AS SIN
“Dripping with dread, charged with suspicion and betrayal, terrifying in its otherworldly loss of human agency and control—WHISPERS ranks among horror maven Dearborn’s best and most unsettling works to date. It’s always cause for celebration when Kristin Dearborn unleashes a fresh nightmare and this is no exception.”
–Ed Kurtz, author of THE RIB FROM WHICH I REMAKE THE WORLD, NAUSEA
If it screams, squelches, or bleeds, Kristin Dearborn has probably written about it. She revels in comments like “But you look so normal…how do you come up with that stuff?” A life-long New Englander, she aspires to the footsteps of the local masters, Messrs. King and Lovecraft. When not writing or rotting her brain with cheesy horror flicks (preferably creature features!) she can be found scaling rock cliffs, zipping around Vermont on a motorcycle, or gallivanting around the globe.
And for more about Kristin, visit her site or find her on social media: