cover image The Whispering

The Whispering

Sarah Rayne. Severn, $28.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8363-6

Rayne’s fourth Flint and West ghost story (after The Silence) is another entertaining and largely standalone haunted house tale. While Oxford professor Michael Flint reads through old journals at remote Fosse House for a music history work he’s coauthoring, he discovers that his host, Luisa Gilmore, is sometimes visited by a long-dead soldier. In Oxford, Flint’s partner, antiques dealer Nell West, researches parallel stories, learning the tales of Russian thieves, disfigured choir singers, and others during WWI. Rayne keeps her protagonists separated more than usual, and much of the story is told through the journals that Flint is reading, which help to develop a variety of solid and distinct narrative voices. As always, the horror is more of the M.R. James variety than the Stephen King variety (atmospheric creepiness rather than boogeymen), but that doesn’t reduce the sense of palpable danger. Rayne lightens but doesn’t undercut the tension with tales of Wilberforce, Flint’s mischievous cat. Fans of ghost stories will continue to appreciate these supernatural investigations. [em](May) [/em]