One morning in Verra, a town nestled into the hillsides of West Virginia, the young Myrthen Bergmann is playing tug-of-war with her twin, when her sister is killed. Unable to accept her own guilt, Myrthen excludes herself from all forms of friendship and affection and begins a twisted, haunted life dedicated to God. Meanwhile, her neighbor Alta Krol longs to be an artist even as her days are taken up caring for her widowed father and siblings. Everything changes when Myrthen marries the man Alta loves. Fourteen years later, we meet Lidia, a teenage girl in the same town, and her precocious son, Gabriel. When Gabriel starts telling eerily prescient stories that hint at Verra’s long-buried secrets, it’s not long before the townspeople begin to suspect that the boy harbors evil spirits—an irresistible state of affairs for Myrthen and her obsession with salvation. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: I like books that, from the very first sentence, suck you in, set the tone, and demand your attention. Admittedly, a lot of books do this, but then they don’t deliver. By the time you’re a few chapters in, you feel kind of duped. I like the books that really suck you in, and that, after sucking you in, can back it up with a compelling story and good writing. It’s a rare book that has both. This is not to say that some books don’t survive on one or the other, because that’s okay, but if a book has both? Well.
Whisper Hollow has both. I love that right from the start, the writing is solid. This is rarer than you think. A lot of authors can tell a good story, but they’re not great writers. They’re passable and it doesn’t ruin the book, but it is a great author indeed who actually writes well and has a good story and can maintain it. Cander definitely does this. Her writing is compelling and beautiful, but accessible as well. Being accessible is key. There are authors who write beautifully, but their writing is a slog to get through. Not true with this book. The writing is beautiful and well-crafted and easy to read. This, my friends, is a great combination. It’s not just not bugging you, but it adds to the story and is a better book because of it.
I also really enjoyed the story of this book. It has a lot of heartache but it also has some great ups, too. It takes place in West Virginia, in the coal mines and mining towns, so right there you know that it’s not going to be all rainbows and sunshine. It’s a hard life there, and this book does a great job of weaving a story that doesn’t vilify or glamorize things unnecessarily. The characters are believable, too. No one is too good or too evil, and like real people there are some that have more good or more evil but no one is infallible and that makes them very relatable.
I have to admit that at the end, I almost couldn’t finish the book because there was a part I saw coming—hoped it wasn’t coming, dared the author not to do it, etc.—but I just had to because I had to know. That is the sign of a good book, peeps. That you care enough about what is going on and are caught up enough in the characters and the environment that you almost can’t bring yourself to read about a disaster you see coming, but you have to in the end. No matter what.
My Rating: 4 stars