Rose McFarland has a traumatic past, one that involves a fire that burned her skin, leaving her with scarred flesh to hide from the world. It’s a reminder of the angry spirits that pursued her childhood, of how her sanity was put in jeopardy while her family accused her of being dangerous. Now, as an adult, all that matters are her children, yet the Whispers that tormented her are back, and she’s not the only one they’re putting in danger this time. Rose must now confront her fears for those she loves, or she might lose everything.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Laurel Hightower for giving me the opportunity.
I’m excited that this was my first novel by Laurel Hightower, I’m now eager to read more of her work ASAP. It didn’t take long for Whispers in the Dark to grip me and hold me until its end, several aspects hitting me as a breath of fresh air, while some of its darker notes summoned an unsettling atmosphere. It blended more than one genre: horror, thriller, mystery, and it even reminded me of my old love of urban fantasy, with magical elements in a modern day setting, not to mention a tough-as-nails heroine. Rose McFarland was a great character, and not just because of her being a skilled S.W.A.T. sniper, but also because of how independent and stubborn she was, and I’ll admit that it was downright excellent to read about a woman determined to maintain her professional career while also being an involved and loving mother. Her life was full of messy, complicated relationships that felt genuine, and the familial secrets that overwhelmed her life were engrossing, with each new revelation more riveting than the last. With an abusive childhood, Rose was punished for a “gift” she couldn’t control, and this resulted in her witnessing and experiencing horrific things, the plot therefore a journey for her to overcome her trauma. It kept my attention, and I wished more than ever for a happy ending for both Rose and Sam, despite my inclinations toward more bleak resolutions.
As for the spooky side of things, I honestly found some scenes to be unnerving, which doesn’t happen a lot when it involves ghostly happenings; the typical tropes of hauntings generally don’t do much for me, but Hightower implemented the paranormal very well, and I don’t think horror lovers would go disappointed. At first, Rose’s experiences were subtle, a lone figure glimpsed in the rearview mirror as an example, and the phenomenon described as the “Whispers” intrigued me a great deal, however there was a slight bit of confusion when the answers were revealed, especially regarding her ancestral line. As it was, the plot itself was rather complex, with some characters that would come and go, or disappear altogether after it seemed they would play a larger role. Sometimes, following a break, I had to try and remind myself who a certain name was – I’m not saying that numerous wheels and cogs are a bad thing, though.
Lastly, I wasn’t sure if I was going to mention it or not, but the synopsis of the book spoils something that I feel would’ve had more impact had it came naturally through reading. It was a pretty significant twist that affected the entire story, but I already knew it was coming even before opening to the first page.
In conclusion: Family was a prominent theme in Whispers in the Dark, with a mother desperate to protect her child. A brilliant protagonist was found in Rose, and I was immediately pulled into her life, her personality complicated yet beautiful. Her encounters with the dead gave some chills that I relished, and I was impressed at how much she developed when it came to taking control of things once feared. Even with my occasional muddled thoughts due to the large cast of supporting characters and various other components, there’s no denying the blatant talent of how this tale came together – there’s so many elements to enjoy, I believe every reader will find something to like.
Beauty never troubled me, and that’s a freeing thing, more so than most people can imagine.
© Red Lace 2021