Where to begin?
In the back of my mind I've had a little excitement niggling ever since Jaclyn Moriarty first said she was working on someone else's story post The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone (you can see my completely gushing review here). Last week after book club, I was downstairs picking up the November book when across the room I saw a glorious pile of shiny hardcovers. I'm not exaggerating when I say I ran across the room. I may have shrieked.
Last Saturday I finally sat down with it and emerged 3 hours later, fingers streaked with shiny gold from holding that gorgeous cover (or perhaps picking some flowers?) and utterly delighted.
Delightful is the adjective I always think of immediately when I think of Jaclyn Moriarty's stories. It just seems to perfectly encapsulate the uniqueness of her writing and how I feel after reading it. The Slightly Alarming Tale of The Whispering Wars was no exception.
From the first page, you are immediately transported back to the familiar world of Bronte's story. This time the adventure starts in Spindrift, a coastal town in the Kingdom of Storms. The tale is told by two characters: Finely, an Orphan and Honey Bee, a student at the posh boarding school just outside of Spindrift. Set at the outbreak of the Whispering Wars (15 years after Bronte's adventures), the town of Spindrift finds itself on the frontlines. Honey Bee and Finely, along with some friends, seem impossibly different, yet must somehow work together to help their town and maybe rescue some mysteriously stolen children.
In a similar style to The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone the story is narrated from a child's perspective, through which Moriarty cleverly layers information to build a complex narrative that is respectful of a young reader's intelligence. She explores rather than explains, and builds up hints and explanation without being patronising.
Kelly Danby's illustrations were incredible, adding another beautiful layer throughout the story.
I particularly enjoyed the interaction between the Finley and Honey Bee, as they alternated chapters, providing commentary (and criticism) on previous chapters (and each other) while they progressed the story. This method of narrative develops their friendship very subtly and adds depth to a range of characters - each with their own intriguing story.
I am just constantly in awe of Jaclyn Moriarty's brain. Her imaginative world building, characters and unique writing style constantly delight me.
The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars is a wonderful companion to The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone that readers of all levels will adore. I really hope there will be adventures and tales from more kingdoms and empires in the future.
Some final adjectives: enchanting. fascinating. charming. intriguing. whimsical. perfect.