When a raven drops a white feather at the doorstep on the day of your birth, it is a symbol of your destiny. You are a Whisperer – a guardian of the wild.
Word of the Narlaw invasion is racing through Meridina. The shape-shifting demons are on the attack and Dawn has called the Whisperers to a council of war. Nara and her leopard companion, Flame, have never left their savannah home but now they must journey to the palace… Will the threat reach them first? Nara and Flame will need all their skills to survive…
A dramatic and fast-paced new series, perfect for fans Michelle Paver, Gill Lewis and the Warrior series.
Source: ARC from Stripes Publishing (Little Tiger Group) via NetGalley
I had no idea when I picked this book up that it was the second in a series. Nothing in the description even hints at that (in fact it implies that it’s the first), and while this isn’t a problem when it comes to Nara’s side of the plot, it definitely left me confused about Dawn. Mostly because this is a fast-paced, action-fuelled story that is pretty light on details. It’s enjoyable and quick to read but left me with so many questions.
What makes a Whisperer, and how does the raven know? How does it feel when they use their powers? Are they all female? Are they all young? If so, why? These are just a few questions that came up while I was reading – and none of them were answered.
Which is a shame, because Nara’s side of the story is quite good. We meet her at home on the farm, just about to leave for the war council. She’s young (about twelve, I think) and has never fit in with her family, thanks to her Whisperer powers and training. Instead her only real companion is Flame, the leopard that she whispers with. I liked Nara, though she’s very mature for her age and takes on the role of mentor with surprising ease since she doesn’t always know what she’s doing herself. She’s competent and no nonsense, knows her duty and does what she has to in order to get it done. I liked Flame too, though barring one trip up a tree and a bit of gruff noise that was a sort of purr, she wasn’t particularly cat-like in her behaviour. She could just as easily have been a dog or a wolf as a big cat, but I liked her friendship with Nara and how she offered encouragement and support in dangerous moments.
The side of the story with Dawn, however, was a different beast altogether. While Nara is clearly a new character with a nice introduction and a little bit of world-building to help set the scene, Dawn is simply thrown into the story without any explanation whatsoever. She’s in the palace, dealing with a princess, but she’s younger than the guards around her… and I have no idea why? Is she really the most senior Whisperer in the kingdom? Or is she the most powerful? Is her raven, Ebony, the one that goes about with the white feathers? Why doesn’t the king like Whisperers? And what on earth is going on with the Narlaw at the palace? That last question is mostly explained, thankfully, but the rest isn’t. Which made every scene Dawn was in a whole lot more confusing than it needed to be and lessened my enjoyment of the book considerably.
So overall this is an okay read. It has an interesting idea at the heart and I liked the idea of an African Savannah setting, but neither the magic nor the world/culture itself is explored, it simply is and the story moves on to the next bit of action and a different, more conventional fantasy setting. This is fine for less confident readers, or ones with short attention spans, but more confident readers might find it a little lacking. If you do decide to read this series, start with A Whisper of Wolves – hopefully then this one will make a bit more sense.
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