Sunday, October 26, 2014

REVIEW: Whisper the Dead by Alyxandra Harvey

Original Publication Year: 2014
Genre(s): Fantasy, YA, Paranormal, Historical
Series: The Lovegrove Legacy #2 (myreview of book 1)
Awards: None
Format: Hardback from Library
Narrated by: NA

Whisper the Dead is the second in the Lovegrove Legacy series that features a paranormally enhanced Regency Era England.  This book focuses on Gretchen who of the three Lovegrove cousins is the biggest rebel which is really saying something. None of them are exactly conventional Regency Era debutantes. Gretchen’s magic specialty is as a Whisperer which means she can access the thoughts of other witches and warlocks both living and dead.  It means that she has access to the spells and knowledge of all magical folks who have come before her but shifting through the hoard of whispers is a difficult skill to develop.
The plot continues from book one.  The three Lovegrove cousins are still under the tight scrutiny of The Order and the big bads which were vanquished in book one may not be as vanquished as previously imagined.  Protective wards set up around London to shield the magical society from harm, as well as from the notice of the general non-magical populace, have begun disappearing.  The Order who are tasked with…well…keeping order are at a bit of a loss how to deal with some of the unusual problems cropping up which is where Gretchen is useful.  She does this by grudgingly helping her assigned watcher from The Order, Tobias, who is a very proper young English Gentleman who is doing everything he can to suppress his inherited werewolf nature.  He is the perfect romantic foil to Gretchen’s wild and very anti-proper young lady.

So let’s talk about Gretchen.  She’s great and I love her.  Of the three cousins she has the most conventional and proper parents and she chafes the most at society’s expectations of gentle ladies.  She despises balls and needlework and would rather be having adventures and living on her own like her twin brother Godric.  She is always doing everything that is wrong and improper and the only way she has stayed sane and not been completely beaten down by her parents is by the help of her twin and cousins.  She in no way understands Tobias’ devotion to civilized and proper society and he in turn is slowly and tentatively learning the value of being ones true self from Gretchen.

While I loved book one, it did not stop me from recognizing a lot of sloppiness in the construction of the novel.  It had a great story and characters but it was kind of a mess.  This book gets rid of almost all those issues.  It felt much more tightly plotted and there were many fewer moments of disjointedness.  There are still some issues with transitions that were sometimes jerky but it was much less of an issue here. 

Another aspect I felt was done better in book two was the development of the setting.  Without having to do such a complete info dump as in book one, Harvey settles in and really explores the world she’s created.  One aspect I noticed this time around was the interesting contrast between the High-Born magic wielders and the lower class as personified in the “madcap” Moira.  Madcaps are the young homeless magic folk that roam the rooftops of London doing odd jobs and surviving by their wits.  The magic they practice is quite different than that of the upper class which adds some interesting layers to the Regency society being portrayed. 

Unlike book one, this book ends on a HUGE cliffhanger which is frustrating because the release timeline for book three has not been announced.  You may be rest assured I will be stalking the interwebs impatiently awaiting a release date, something I never do. 

I have come to accept that Alyxandra Harvey is one of my most favorite authors for delightful fluff, I don’t think she gets enough attention quite frankly.  If you get a chance, visit my review of Book One where I try to articulate what it is that is so great about her books.  Basically, while I think she struggles a bit with overall construction of a novel, at the sentence level she is a pretty fantastic writer, has a fantastic sense of humor and she writes characters and relationships that are easy to love and are healthy.  It’s the perfect recipe for a satisfying, page-turner YA read.
Final Verdict:  4 out of 5 stars for leaving me wanting more for being a blast!  ✯✯✯✯ 

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