This novel continues as entry #4 in the Nell West series and we catch up with Nell and Michael a little after the events of “The Silence”. In this story, Michael takes the forefront of the strange circumstances with Nell becoming more of the second character and completing the secondary research investigation role. I really enjoyed this shift of perspective and think it brought some freshness to the Nell West stories. This story follows Michael visiting a reclusive old lady Luisa Gilmore at Fosse House in Norfolk. After viewing her collection of papers the ill-fated Palestrina choir, a storm hits and Michael is forced to take refuge and stay the night at Fosse House. Something Luisa is not overly keen on him doing. When he spots a young man lurking on the grounds of the house things begin to take an even stranger turn. The secondary historical storyline for me is more intriguing than the ghostly presence of the modern storyline. There are various historical threads but it mostly follows a young man’s story of the first world war and his discovery of the beautiful Palestrina choir in a Belgium Convent. His desire to free them from the impending forces heading their way. This young man’s story and all the connecting weaving threads that Rayne puts in are just phenomenal and actually quite beautiful. The setting of Fosse House and the remote isolation provides all the dark brooding atmosphere required for any ghost story. Yet, Rayne’s description of the war imprisonment camp for me provided the more intriguing settings and all the goings on there made me really root for the characters involved. This is just a great story. It’s not all dark and ghostly. It’s not all mysterious and menacing. It’s just a really great, enjoyable, intriguing storyline. With lots of odd-shaped puzzle pieces that fit together very well by the time you reach the end. For those that haven’t discovered the Nell West collection, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to Phil Rickman’s work; old story exposed, great characters and slightly eerie. Please leave a helpful vote if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
This is the fourth in the series by Sarah Rayne which feature Michael Flint, and the antiques dealer Nell West. (The author has also published several other ‘ghost’ books which do not feature this pair.) I have read quite a few of the author’s books, and enjoyed them. In this book Michael goes to Fosse House to investigate papers held by the elderly owner Luisa Gilmore about a choir in a remote Belgian convent. There he finds himself seemingly haunted by whispers – could they belong to a young man who was incarcerated in the infamous Holzminden camp during the First World War? And what link does Fosse House have to Holzminden?
In this story we get to see more of the character of Michael, who in the previous books has been more of a second fiddle to Nell’s own ‘ghost’ experiences. This was a good opportunity for the author to build Michael’s character, and was good to see. The book is largely seen through the eyes of the writers of old papers and letters, and the haunting links back a century ago remind us how horrific the experience of war was.
This is a good book; like all the Flint and West books it is perhaps a little formulaic, but it’s not a bad formula, and the results are enjoyable, readable and engrossing stories.
Academic, Dr Michael Flint, is researching the effect music had on the World War I poets for a forthcoming book. He has arranged to stay close to isolated Fosse House in the Fens to study some papers relating to the short lived Palestrina Choir. The weather and circumstances conspire to ensure that he stays at Fosse House itself with its elderly owner Luisa Gilmour who has a story to tell.
Michael starts to wonder whether there is something odd about the house when he first arrives there and it seems someone is trying to get into the house out of the wind and the rain. But is the person real, a figment of his imagination or the ghost of Stephen Gilmour who died during World War I?
This is a fascinating and spooky tale which will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. The book also includes a poignant love story which may bring tears to your eyes. I found the mixture of past and present fascinating and compelling reading. I wanted to know what the real story was behind the mysteries of Fosse House. I liked Michael Flint as a character and his partner, antique dealer, Nell West – not to speak of Wilberforce the cat who causes mayhem with his explorations.
This is a well written book with believable supernatural elements and an interesting background of World War I and the misery it caused to ordinary people. This is the first book I have read by this author and I shall certainly be reading more of her work as I enjoy the mix of past and present which she handles skilfully.
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Michael Flint is researching a book on the influence of music on WW1 poets, and is brought to Fosse House in search of material. Once there, he finds shadowy figures in the garden, a haunted woman, and the traces of a tragic story from the First World War which hasn’t been laid to rest.
This is a well-modulated modern ghost story which melds the emotive story-telling of Faulks’ Birdsong with the supernatural elements of MR James. Rayne does a particularly good job of keeping the historical setting feeling authentic, and the use of letters and multiple narrators is managed with an easy deftness.
At the heart of this book are two tales of war-time brutality which are told with a restrained lack of moral outrage or sensationalism which leaves them all the more hard-hitting. Some well-placed moments of light-hearted humour give us some welcome relief without destroying the tension of the main story.
This is a fairly quick read but one with far more substance and emotional weight than I expected.
(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
I can't believe my good fortune in finding this book. Sarah Rayne is a new author for me so when I saw the novel was described as a haunted house mystery I took a chance and found a gem of a story. The novel is set in modern times, but concerns research Oxford don Dr. Michael Flint is doing into the influence music had on poetry written during the Great War. There is a connection to the Palestrina Choir of the Sacre-Coeur convent in Liege, Belgium, captured by the German army, and an ancestor of Miss Luisa Gilmore, who has given Flint permission to look into the family papers for information into what caused the disaster which befell the choir. Miss Gilmore reluctantly allows Michael to remain overnight in her home only because a tree has been blown across the road and he cannot get his car around it to drive to the village. Located in a particularly remote part of the Fens, Fosse House conjures up all the stereotypes of the haunted house, with the air of disrepair and the groans and creaks old houses are famous for. That must be the cause of the whispers Michael hears which seem to be a voice imploring him to allow someone entry, but what is the explanation for the shadowy form he so plainly sees?
The atmosphere of suspense was so wonderfully created that I actually was startled when my telephone rang while I was reading this book. I positively jumped! The story of what happened at the convent and later in Holzminden, the German prisoner of war camp for British officers, is told through letters written by those involved in the story and uncovered by various people in different locations. I liked the way the strands of the story intersected through hearing about what happened from various characters so all the loose ends were tied up by the story's end. The author's skill in blending the stormy weather, the conditions of the house, and the isolation of the location and Luisa Gilmore combined to make a riveting plot. Then to add in the pathos of the young girl sent away to a convent and the horrors witnessed on the battlefield by a young man whose mind became too fragile to survive everyday life resulted in this author painting tragic, unforgettable characters in a gripping story.
I've discovered that Sarah Rayne has written quite a few novels which are probably easier to find in England than here in the U. S. Some of the books are available on Kindle, but not all of them. I can't be absolutely certain, but it appears that the first novel to feature Michael Flint would be The Sin Eater, followed by Property of A Lady where Nell West makes her entrance into the series, and then The Silence. I began my exploration with the fourth book and had absolutely no problem with continuity or understanding what had come before in previous novels. If you enjoy the psychological thriller, this novel will definitely give you that. My decision now is which book to read next.
I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.
The Whispering is the fourth in Sarah Rayne’s remarkable series of supernatural suspense novels. For obvious reasons I won’t outline the plot but once again an eerie building is the focal point for a haunting story that grabs the reader from the first page and releases its grip only after the final line.
Fosse House is a wonderful creation and Sarah Rayne’s prose so vivid the reader can picture every room, every nook and cranny. Describing its exterior she writes: ‘. . . and there were sprawling patches of discolouration on the walls as if some inner disease had seeped through.’
The house is indeed haunted by terrible secrets stretching back generations, its corridors echo with whispers and visions. For the main protagonists – Nell West and Michael Flint – the unsettling sounds and menacing shadows are all too great a threat.
In a fast-paced narrative full of heart-stopping suspense, truths are revealed layer by layer via letters and a diary each written in a distinctive ‘voice’. This brings even off-page characters to colourful life. Once again, it's a delight to ‘meet’ Nell and Michael, and their developing relationship provides Sarah Rayne with opportunities for lovely touches of humour.
The Whispering is a book I couldn’t stop reading but didn’t want to finish.
Another successful Nell and Michael ghost story . Each and everyone of their escapades are different Sarah Rayne only proves over and over again what a versatile writer she is . This is a very sad story of a boy wronged and the horror and torment he suffers .
If you have read the others before this one then you will enjoy this one , if you haven't then you don't know what you are missing .