Published by Text Publishing on October 3rd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
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The winner of the 2015 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing is Kimberley Starr, author of The Book of Whispers!
Tuscany, 1096 AD. Luca, young heir to the title of Conte de Falconi, sees demons. Luca must keep quiet about what he sees, or risk another exorcism by the nefarious priest Ramberti.
Luca also has dreams—dreams that sometimes predict the future. Luca sees his father murdered in one such dream and vows to stop it coming true. Even if he has to go against his father’s wishes and follow him on the great pilgrimage to capture the Holy Land.
Suzan has dreams too, Consigned with her mute mother to a life in an underground convent, she has a vision of a brown-haired boy riding through the desert. A boy with an ancient book that holds some inscrutable power. A boy who will take her on an adventure that will lead to places beyond both their understanding.
Together, Luca and Suzan will realise their true quest: to defeat the forces of man and demon that wish to destroy the world.
The Book of Whispers is Kimberley Starr’s winner of the Text Prize for 2015. It’s a story of love, loss and demons, in the crusade to free Jerusalem from the Saracens.
Luca, the son and heir of the Conte de Falconi, sees demons, a fact he keeps well hidden after his attempted exorcism as a child. When his father heads off to join the Princes on the Holy Crusade, Luca is not content to stay behind and look after their estate in San Gimignano, Tuscany. He secures a place on the holy pilgrimage, bringing along the mysterious book that his father gave him, along with its attached demon.
Suzan lives in Cappadocia with her mother in an underground monastery. She sees a vision of a great army approaching, and when the local priest tries to attack her, she escapes and flees into the wilderness, finding a group of pilgrims heading for Jerusalem.
The journey taken by the crusaders from Europe all the way to Jerusalem is a long and bloody one, with battles, starvation, thirst and sickness dogging them along the way. Yes, there are demons driving the evils done in the name of God, but it’s a sad reminder just how bloody and vicious holy wars have been through the ages.
Luca and Suzan’s romance is a sweet one, even if it seems a little instant, but they make a great team, relying on each other to foil the demons’ plans. The Book of Whispers itself is almost an extra character in the story, revealing its secrets in bits and pieces. I was never quite sure which side the book was on!
The descriptions of the ancient places are amazing, and I’m fairly sure it’s not just because I’ve been to some of the places visited. I loved the description of Jerusalem, and I hope I might get to visit it one day, not for religious reasons, but because the whole place is such a crossroads of cultures and holy sites – it sounds wonderful. Maybe one day when the region isn’t so war-torn, if that ever happens.
In all, The Book of Whispers is an excellent stand-alone story – real-life history augmented with demons!