A Faint Whisper by Tanya R. Taylor is Book 12 in the Cornelius Saga Series. Why would I ever start a series with Book 12? I usually resist investigating a series this way, but a visit to the author’s Amazon page plus an email from the author about this book’s release proved very effective to draw me in at this late stage in the series. The author should get some points for effective book promotion. Book Two, Cornelius’ Revenge, is available for free if all I wanted was to sample the author’s writing style. Book 12 was released on 22 May 2019; Book Two has a publication date of 2015. I planned to read at least these two books in the series to compare writing styles and identify changes over three and one-half years. After reading this 12th book in the series, I abandoned my plan.
A Faint Whisper is a solid three Amazon star read. The story begins with strange events and a mystery. Long-time neighborhood residents Sara, granddaughter Rosie, daughter Mira, and fiancé Bobby are humming along in the routines of daily life. Occasional significant events are coming up, such as the impending marriage of Mira and Bobby. A disrupting event to their routine is the arrival of new neighbors who moved into a house abandoned after the death of widow Rebecca. Sara wants to introduce Cindy, husband John, and daughter Ashley to the neighborhood but is rebuffed by Cindy, who demands everyone allow her family to live a life of seclusion. Cindy’s family life is one of tension. John is sure he loves Cindy but also realizes his love might be a search for stability for daughter Ashley. Cindy is completely selfish and does nothing that doesn’t reap benefits for herself. Her selfishness extends outside the family in her role as a real estate agent and inside in her role as a homemaker and parent. Ashley is sad to have made the move, feels sorry for her dad’s constantly kowtowing to a dominant wife, and resents her overbearing mother.
Then the ghostly noises appear. First visible only to Ashley, they will, step-by-step, appear to Cindy and John. The recently arrived family doesn’t have the money to move away. Newly acquired jobs trap them. They will have to find ways to deal with the spirit manifestations.
Across the street, Rosie can look out in the evening and see s ghost emerging from the ground. So can Mira. Sara accepts the gift of seeing the dead that is present in her daughter and granddaughter. And this is where the story breaks down. It is at the 70% part of the novel. For some reason, a character (spoiler) decides to present the answer to all the mysteries which have been hinted at. It is as if the character unfurled a map and said, “Here it is.”
Structurally, the novel proceeds at a very even, linear pace. Even when the surprise happens, it occurs unsurprisingly. The atmosphere of the storyline is, “OK, it is time for the surprise now.” And then everything is explained. This novel has less suspense than newspaper reporting of the timelines and elements of a crime. It is a campfire story in which everyone lets the class geek tell a story out of politeness because everyone knows how it will be told.
I would recommend this three-star read for grades seven and eight, junior high school. The novel contains no offensive language, no violence, and only minimal scary scenes (horror). Whisper has 153 pages and took me one hour ten minutes to read in one session. The sale price on Amazon is USD 0.99. I will not read more by this author.