Review: “The Whispering Hollows,” Lisa Unger

Pros: Covers some great pivotal points in this world
Cons:
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

After reading Lisa Unger’s upcoming Ink and Bone for review, I had to track down more books by her. I just finished reading The Whispering Hollows (The Whispers Series), which consists of three stories centered on Eloise, the grandmother of Finley (who is the main character in Ink and Bone). Quite a few years are covered in here. The first story tells us of how Eloise’s unusual abilities (such as interacting with the dead) got triggered. The second takes place 14 years later, as Eloise is desperately trying to figure out how to use her abilities without allowing the dead to walk all over her. Finally, the third story sees Eloise trying to figure out how Finley’s abilities fit with hers, and how to protect Finley from the dangers she’ll face.

 

Characterization seems to be one of Unger’s strengths. Eloise had to come to grips with her new abilities (such as interacting with the dead) after suffering through an incredible tragedy (the deaths of her husband and one of her two daughters). In so many books this role would be written for a much younger character, maybe her daughter Amanda. The focus on Eloise was perfect–it made for a fresh angle on the story. This is a stay-at-home mom who suddenly has to deal with her world both caving in and expanding. It’s not surprising that fourteen years later she’s still trying to find some sort of balance between her life and her abilities. The author did a great job of showing how she’s changed in that time, and why things are still so difficult for her. In the final story we see Finley–an amazing compare-and-contrast between her awakening into her abilities and Eloise’s struggle to protect her.

“A haunting is a relationship.”

The three stories beautifully capture these three such pivotal points in Eloise and Finley’s lives. These aren’t fast-paced thrillers; they’re character studies. And they’re handled so very beautifully. The Hollows (where Eloise lives) is kind of a character of its own, with an agenda and a personality. That line about a haunting being a relationship really resonated with me. I felt it was such a wonderful way of looking at that sort of plot.

Now I have to track down and read all the other books in Unger’s Whispers series. Having read both these short stories and the upcoming novel, I’m totally hooked!

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