Alone in the world, Elspeth Swansome has taken the position of nanny to a family on the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea.
Her charge, Mary, is a strange child. Distracted and secretive, she hasn't uttered a word since the sudden death of her twin, William - just days after their former nanny disappeared.
With her charge defiantly silent, Elspeth turns to the islanders. But no one will speak of what happened to William.
Just as no one can explain the hypnotic lullabies sung in empty corridors.
Nor the strange dolls that appear in abandoned rooms.
Nor the faint whistling that comes in the night . . .
As winter draws in and passage to the mainland becomes impossible, Elspeth finds herself trapped.
But is this house haunted by the ghosts of the past?
OR THE SECRETS OF THE LIVING..?
MY REVIEW ****
With Halloween around the corner (well, kind of!), I like to enjoy dark evenings with the rain beating at my windows curled up inside with a spooky book. The Whistling ticked all the boxes for this nicely -it’s a gothic historical horror in a remote part of Scotland, with a creepy house, a chilling family backstory and rumours of witchcraft.
The atmosphere to the piece is chilling and although I wouldn’t say the book is an outright horror, it’s a good read to make you question odd noises in your house late at night. Our main character is Elspeth who moves to a small Scottish Island to work as a nanny to a child who has not spoken a word since her brother died. I thought Elspeth was a good mixture of feisty and curious, while still having the delicate sensibilities of a woman from the 1800s. The claustrophobic feel of the village - with everyone knowing every piece of gossip about you and no ability to go anywhere by yourself without being watched was also presented well. I liked the relationship between Elspeth and her young charge Mary and the fact that she didn’t speak added to the horror side of the story.
I did feel that the book was a little slow at times and a better edit would have made this a more impactful story. The ending was also a touch predictable, but this is a debut and I’m excited to see what else Rebecca Netley will write – an author to keep an eye on for sure!
Overall, The Whistling is a slow-burn gothic horror which is perfect for reading as winter draws near. Thank you to NetGalley & Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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