I was thrilled to be contacted by BookBear (click here for their Facebook and here for their Twitter) to be a featured blogger on their virtual book tour of The Whisper King by Wil Radcliffe. I mean, they gave me a free book to give an honest review: how bad could that be? Plus, you know I like reading things (and sharing things) I might not otherwise have found.
So. Here’s what I thought. The Whisper King is a relatively short book – only about 120 pages. A lot happens in those 120 pages. A young boy, David Kinder, is in an orphanage. I’m probably reading too much into it, but I like to think his name is meaningful — David, like David and Goliath; and Kinder, like he’s kinder than his gruff persona might make you think. His best friend, Donna, the one comfort he finds in the orphanage, is adopted and he never sees her again. The monsters in the closet seem to be increasingly real and call to him. Suddenly he becomes a monster from his closet. There are battles. There are betrayals. There are more battles, and an awful lot of killing. There are reunions. And threads left untied that will no doubt be picked back up in the book that follows (this one is billed as “Volume One.”)
Although I was probably chosen for this book tour because I do like fantasy novels, and I do like dark fantasy, I’m not really the target audience for this book. It reads to me like a novelization of a video game that certain parents forbid their children to play in the living room. There isn’t much exposition, not much character development, and not a whole lot of time is spent in transition. In fact, it would make one heck of a video game or action/horror movie. There is a (stereotypically male, relatively young) audience for this book – middle aged women aren’t it. I wanted more. There seemed to be more that was unsaid. There is a lot that is potentially there, and the presence of so much potential highlighted the absence of it. What is the Whisper King’s ultimate goal (besides domination)? How does he inspire such loyalty? Why doesn’t there appear to be any dissent in the ranks? Until suddenly there is? Why does he prey on – or is it rescue – vulnerable boys: orphans, the abused, the lonely? I’m not opposed to a fight-to-the-death scene, but I kind of want some moral quandary to go along with it. Of course, if all that were in there, it would probably appeal less to the target audience, which wants to cut to the chase and get to the action without a whole lot of talk about feelings. My husband, a man-child old enough to have grey hair and collect a pension, often complains when books go “on and on” about that sort of thing, so although he hasn’t read it yet, he’d probably like it this way.
The action scenes are done well, and not for the faint of heart. They are bloody, gory, vicious, remorseless, and only the victors survive. The monsters are imaginative and described well enough to see. The f-bomb to sentence ratio is probably about two to one. Some of it is gratuitous, some of it isn’t. It is, to quote a clichéd movie review “a non-stop thrill ride.” If that’s your thing, this is your book.
Ok, there is some sweetness in it, and a good thing to remember on those dark nights after you’ve read a book like this: music really does scare the monsters away.
And BookBears are adorable:
If you are interested in finding out more about this book, you can find it on any of the following links:
|Barnes & Noble Link
Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.