…& we’re still searching for a Harry Potter replacement.
13 years on, after the last Harry Potter novel was released, once-were-young adults are still searching for a fantasy novel to fill that void which J. K. Rowling left after she packed up her quill and ink bottles and called it a day. But has Jaclyn Moriarty potentially penned a fantasy series which will keep the next generation of primary school kids and soon to be young adults spell bound?
“Hey? Whatcha reading?” my wife asked a 9 year old daughter of a close friend at a summer’s BBQ party.
“It’s ISBN 9781760297183- The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars” she replies in a no-nonsense 9 year old way, blinking up at my wife.
“Oh cool, is it any good?” asks my wife……….
And returning home, my wife proceeds to tell me of a new book she’d like to listen to on Audible. And here we are, me letting you know what I thought.
Well, we first have to back-track a bit, as The Whispering Wars was the second novel of a loosely connected series; ‘The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone’ was the first book (although the Whispering Wars is actually a prequel). *Cross-eyed*. But let’s keep Bronte Mettlestone to another day and another time, as quietly just between you and me…. It wasn’t all that good. *Whispered from the corner of my mouth*. But if you read it first, it does complete the entire story for the Whispering Wars (although WW can be deemed as a standalone novel).
Well, essentially The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars (hence forth to be referred as TSATotWW) is set in a fantasy world, similar to our own world (including an incurable infectious illness) where there are 2 groups of children living in a fictional harbour town called Spindrift. On one side of the tracks, we have the orphans (a boy called Finley being the main protagonist) and on the leafy, affluent side of the tracks are the boarding school children (of which a girl named Honeybee is the main character). The children first come together in a local track & field competition, and after a disagreement breaks out between the two schools, one of the orphanage kids goes missing, and shortly after, a declaration of war is pronounced by the Whispering folk from the Whispering kingdom……. & the story unfolds from there.
TSATotWW follows a well-thumbed recipe for fantasy books, i.e. there is a fantasy world with fantasy kings and queens (check); there are mystical beings (check); there is the use of magic (check); warring kingdoms (check); and time travel to boot (check). However, where say, Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings used well known mystical beings e.g. goblins, dwarves, rangas, and Pegasus, Jacclyn Moriarty has invented her own mystical beings which…. um….. doesn’t always work. However I’m nit-picking now….
But the story was interesting enough, riveting enough, had me turning the pages, and there were plenty of twists and reveals which made it a stand-out read. And Jacclyn Moriarty use of epistolary form, i.e. alternating chapters voiced by a different character (Finley for the orphans and Honeybee for the boarders), drove the story forward through letter entries, each in their distinctive style – requiring different voice actors for the audiobook version. That made it quite an enjoyable listen. But will Bronte Mettlestone be a household name like Harry P? Unfortunately I don’t think so, so the search for an HP replacement goes on!
So if you, or if you’d like to gift your child a new fantasy series to immerse themselves in? Give TSATotWW by Jacclyn Moriarty a go, you can start listening to it HERE!