Tuscany, 1096 AD. Luca, young heir to the title of Conte de Falconi, sees demons. Since no one else can see them, Luca must keep quiet about what he sees, or risk another exorcism by the nefarious priest Ramberti. Luca also has dreams - dreams that sometimes predict the future.
Night after night Luca sees his father murdered, and vows to stop it coming true. Even if he has to go against his father's wishes and follow him on the great pilgrimage to capture the Holy Lands. Far away in Cappadocia, Suzan has dreams too. Consigned with her mute mother to a life in an underground convent, she has a vision of a brown-haired boy riding through the desert.
A boy with an ancient book that holds some inscrutable power. A boy who will take her on an adventure that will lead to places beyond both their understanding. Together, Luca and Suzan will realise their true quest - to defeat the forces of man and demon that wish to destroy the world.
Taking her inspiration from the story of the People’s Crusade in 1096 Brisbane author Kimberley Starr has combined medieval history with mythology and fantasy to create a compelling adventure novel that addresses contemporary issues like faith, racism, war and colonisation within the framework of a magical realism novel.
The story revolves around Luca, who follows his father, the Comte De Falconi, on Pope Urban II’s crusade to the Holy Land of Jerusalem. Along the way he meets Suzan - a young woman who is more than she appears - and she helps him to unravel the mysteries of the ancient Book of Whispers that has been in his family for generations, and seems to predict a war between humans and demons.
Kimberley Starr holds a degree in Medieval Literature, and much of the research for this book was undertaken in person during travels through Istanbul and Turkey, so the result is a great leaping-off point for students and classrooms to explore the period more deeply.
The Book of Whispers is fast paced and bloody in parts, not shying away from the brutality of the period and the atrocities committed during the Crusades; but it also shrewdly challenges the reader to think about religion, extremism and tolerance - particularly in relation to a region where those topics have particular significance.
Best suited to those 14+.
Reviewed by Lian