Voracious reader and DPhil candidate blogs about books and scholarly life.
Whisper the Dead
Other reviewers have described A Breath of Frost, the first part in Alyxandra Harvey’s Lovegrove Legacy series, as ‘adorable’, ‘sweet’, and ‘lovely’. Perhaps a little inappropriate, you’d think, for a book in which unearthly beings cause a girl to die. But, alas, the sequel Whisper the Dead is just as adorable, in spite of further suffering and bewitching.
In the first book in the series, the three cousins Emma, Gretchen and Penelope discovered that they descend from a long line of witches. Where the first book focused on Emma, who lost her father to the underworld while her mother turned herself into a deer, Whisper the Dead is written from the perspective of Gretchen, a fierce girl who stubbornly fights against the social oppressions of Regency-era London. We can only be glad that this book was not written from the perspective of Penelope, as she seems to be an excessively boring character compared to Emma and Gretchen: Penelope is a fan of Shakespeare, which she declaims widely and loudly, but she doesn’t seem to have that much depth otherwise. It seems that the third book in the series will have Penelope as its main character, so we can only hope that Harvey has a little more development in mind for her.
So, yes, this book is quite adorable. Even though the subject is a fierce battle between evil witch spirits and three young teenage girls. Even though multiple people die in this book. Most of the time, the truly impressive and devastating moments are not developed enough to really affect the reader, mainly because they are immediately followed by a slapstick or cheesy moment. I mean, Emma has come out of her battle in book one with antlers. No fierce battle scars, no, antlers. She can make them invisible with a spell to make herself presentable to high society, of course. Really, if Harvey meant to make her readers remember how dreadful the evil Greymalkin Sisters were in the first book, she should have settled for something less hilarious.
That was the slapstick. There’s the cheesy, too. The three cousins now each need a Keeper, their personal body guard. Gretchen, being strong and independent and all, doesn’t like hers, the extremely formal, cold, distant Tobias. Of course, it is clear that they are going to hopelessly fall for each other right at the climax of the book. Harvey really didn’t have to put the development of their relationship in so many words if it’s so predictable – and this means that every time Tobias and Gretchen do something together, the tension is so awkward it is funny.
Whisper the Dead is amusing, all in all. A cute little read. I’m guessing girls in their early teens – slightly younger than the three cousins – will really like it.