The Book of Whispers by Kimberley Starr (Text Publishing) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9 781925 3555 12
Reviewed by Wendy Fitzgerald
Australian author, Kimberley Starr has an MA in medieval literature and teaches English in Melbourne. Her latest book, The Book of Whispers won the 2015 Text Prize for best manuscript written for young adults and children. It was published in October 2016.
The Book of Whispers is a captivating medieval adventure story set back in the 11th century at the time of the first crusade. It starts in the Falconi estate in San Gimignano, Tuscany back in the Year 1096AD. We follow young Luca on his quest from Italy, through Turkey and Syria to Jerusalem to help free Jerusalem from the Saracens.
Luca can see evil demons but he must hide this gift. On the way Luca meets Suzan and they form a special bond. It is Suzan who helps Luca unravel the mysteries of the ancient ‘Book of Whispers.’
With the rest of the army, Luca and Suzan face bloody battles, starvation, thirst and sickness. They must defeat the demons, Luca’s step brother and the evil priest, Ramberti in order to save Jerusalem.
I quote- ‘I wanted to tell a story that made history as interesting as I’ve always found it by telling it in a way that had characters kids could relate to with a compelling narrative that made them keep asking what happens next.’ (Kimberley Starr)
I really like the combination of brilliantly researched history, fantasy (the demons and the magic book), action, suspense and romance. I connected strongly with the characters and I like the use of duel narrative where Starr moves cleverly from Luca to Suzan.
‘My story came from my interest in travel and fascination with how historical events connect to modern life,’ Starr said.
Kimberley has definitely achieved this by addressing contemporary issues such as faith, racism, war, displacement and colonisation.
I loved this book and highly recommend The Book of Whispers to readers from 14 years old and older.