Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: The Whispering House

The Whispering House
By Rebecca Wade
Expected publication May 22, 2012 by HarperCollins Children's Books

Hannah is temporarily living in Cowleigh House while her family home undergoes repairs. But Hannah soon begins experiencing some troubling phenomena. Is it related to the house? And what about the mysterious death of a little girl there in the late 1800s?

I picked this up at Midwinter, probably because I'm always looking for scarier things for kids (horror has pretty much always been my favorite genre). This book was a pretty big disappointment, though. Not only is it not really scary, but it's poorly written and incredibly dumbed-down. I also didn't know that this was a sequel to an earlier book - it's not necessary to have read the first if you want to read this one, but you might find yourself annoyed at the numerous oblique references to some past happening in the lives of the two main characters. I suppose reading the first might give one more insight into the exact nature of the relationship between Hannah and Sam, which I found frustratingly unclear. There is nothing noteworthy about this book - the characters are flat and, quite often, annoying. The storyline is bland and plodding. The setting wasn't even described very well - I didn't realize until quite a few pages in that the story wasn't taking place in the U.S. Most problematic for me is how incredibly dumbed-down this book feels. The protagonist is 14, which would usually lead libraries to put this in a the young adult section. But the content screams this is for much younger readers. And, even if I assume that this is geared to middle-grade readers instead of teens (which I am inclined to do), the book is incredibly oversimplified and annoying. With much more compelling and richly developed mysteries and ghost stories graving the shelves, I have a hard time imagining the reader who would truly enjoy this novel. A miss for me.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

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