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The Whistling

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SEND SHIVERS DOWN YOUR SPINE WITH THIS CHILLING AND GRIPPING STORY SET IN A FAR-FLUNG SCOTTISH ISLAND . . . PERFECT TO CURL UP WITH AS THE NIGHTS DRAW IN 'If you're looking for a chilling tale as we head towards Halloween, you've found it' HEAT 'Chills you to your bones . . . More unsettling and beautiful than you can imagine' 5***** READER REVIEW ________ Alone in the world, SEND SHIVERS DOWN YOUR SPINE WITH THIS CHILLING AND GRIPPING STORY SET IN A FAR-FLUNG SCOTTISH ISLAND . . . PERFECT TO CURL UP WITH AS THE NIGHTS DRAW IN 'If you're looking for a chilling tale as we head towards Halloween, you've found it' HEAT 'Chills you to your bones . . . More unsettling and beautiful than you can imagine' 5***** READER REVIEW ________ Alone in the world, Elspeth Swansome takes the position of nanny to a family on the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea. Her charge, Mary, hasn't uttered a word since the sudden death of her twin, William - just days after their former nanny disappeared. No one will speak of what happened to William. Just as no one can explain the hypnotic lullabies sung in empty corridors. Nor the strange dolls that appear in abandoned rooms. Nor the faint whistling that comes in the night . . . As winter draws in and passage to the mainland becomes impossible, Elspeth finds herself trapped. But is this house haunted by the ghosts of the past? OR THE SECRETS OF THE LIVING . . . ? ________ Chilling, twisty and emotionally gripping, The Whistling is an atmospheric page-turner with shades of the classics, yet a unique character of its own, perfect for fans of Susan Hill and Laura Purcell 'I was sucked in from page one and read it in one fell swoop' 5***** READER REVIEW 'A wicked twist . . . brilliant, scary, clever. Horror writing at its best' 5***** READER REVIEW 'A great story with moments of heart-grabbing terror, beautifully written' 5***** READER REVIEW


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SEND SHIVERS DOWN YOUR SPINE WITH THIS CHILLING AND GRIPPING STORY SET IN A FAR-FLUNG SCOTTISH ISLAND . . . PERFECT TO CURL UP WITH AS THE NIGHTS DRAW IN 'If you're looking for a chilling tale as we head towards Halloween, you've found it' HEAT 'Chills you to your bones . . . More unsettling and beautiful than you can imagine' 5***** READER REVIEW ________ Alone in the world, SEND SHIVERS DOWN YOUR SPINE WITH THIS CHILLING AND GRIPPING STORY SET IN A FAR-FLUNG SCOTTISH ISLAND . . . PERFECT TO CURL UP WITH AS THE NIGHTS DRAW IN 'If you're looking for a chilling tale as we head towards Halloween, you've found it' HEAT 'Chills you to your bones . . . More unsettling and beautiful than you can imagine' 5***** READER REVIEW ________ Alone in the world, Elspeth Swansome takes the position of nanny to a family on the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea. Her charge, Mary, hasn't uttered a word since the sudden death of her twin, William - just days after their former nanny disappeared. No one will speak of what happened to William. Just as no one can explain the hypnotic lullabies sung in empty corridors. Nor the strange dolls that appear in abandoned rooms. Nor the faint whistling that comes in the night . . . As winter draws in and passage to the mainland becomes impossible, Elspeth finds herself trapped. But is this house haunted by the ghosts of the past? OR THE SECRETS OF THE LIVING . . . ? ________ Chilling, twisty and emotionally gripping, The Whistling is an atmospheric page-turner with shades of the classics, yet a unique character of its own, perfect for fans of Susan Hill and Laura Purcell 'I was sucked in from page one and read it in one fell swoop' 5***** READER REVIEW 'A wicked twist . . . brilliant, scary, clever. Horror writing at its best' 5***** READER REVIEW 'A great story with moments of heart-grabbing terror, beautifully written' 5***** READER REVIEW

30 review for The Whistling

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    4+ star It’s 1860 and Elspeth Swansome is on board a boat taking her to the Scottish island of Skelthsea as she escapes her past in Edinburgh. She’s to take up a position as nanny to nine year old Mary who is cared for by her aunt Violet Gillies. Mary is mute with grief, a deeply troubled child after tragedy enters her life. Elspeth is determined to get to the bottom of what so disturbs her charge especially when a number of inexplicable things occur including a whistling sound heard in the corri 4+ star It’s 1860 and Elspeth Swansome is on board a boat taking her to the Scottish island of Skelthsea as she escapes her past in Edinburgh. She’s to take up a position as nanny to nine year old Mary who is cared for by her aunt Violet Gillies. Mary is mute with grief, a deeply troubled child after tragedy enters her life. Elspeth is determined to get to the bottom of what so disturbs her charge especially when a number of inexplicable things occur including a whistling sound heard in the corridors of Iskar at night. If you’re looking for a ghostly gothic tale to read as winter draws nigh then look no further than this. It’s a beautifully written novel that is true to the nineteenth century gothic novel both in style and format. There’s a haunting dream like quality that pervades the writing which is very powerful. There are some wonderful descriptions especially of Iskar the island home of Violet, over which hangs an air of solitude and sadness and evoking an atmosphere all of its own. As strange events increase in the household this is matched by the encroaching chill of the winter with all it’s unpredictable weather which serves to intensify the sense of foreboding. The island and its inhabitants add further to the tension and creepiness which starts with prickles of unease but grows into fear and a pervasive menace which Elspeth as the narrator clearly conveys. Elspeth is maybe too curious at times seemingly drawn in as a moth to a flame but her growing concern and love for Mary brings out a protective instinct. Icy fear, ghostly spectral hints, spooky scenes, strange behaviour all send shivers down the spine. It builds to a dramatic conclusion with a surprising outcome I don’t see coming! Overall, this is an evocative, eerie, disquieting novel and perfect for fans of authors such as Laura Purcell. Recommended. With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Penguin Michael Joseph for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Margaret M

    The setting of Iskar is mysterious, wild, and untamed with a range of deeply drawn characters that connect the past and the present. The writing is creepy but elegant and darkly ominous, even the weather has its role in creating the perfect haunting atmosphere whilst the author does an amazing job in telling an evil tale that is accretive, extending, and unyielding. The year is 1860. Elspeth, now without any family of her own after the death of both her parents and sister Clara, she relocates to The setting of Iskar is mysterious, wild, and untamed with a range of deeply drawn characters that connect the past and the present. The writing is creepy but elegant and darkly ominous, even the weather has its role in creating the perfect haunting atmosphere whilst the author does an amazing job in telling an evil tale that is accretive, extending, and unyielding. The year is 1860. Elspeth, now without any family of her own after the death of both her parents and sister Clara, she relocates to the remote island of Skethsea to take up a new position as nanny of a troubled child named Mary. Needless to say, all is not well at Iskar, Mary has refused to speak since the sudden death of her brother, William, most of the house remains uninhabited and unused, and the residents are mysterious and unfriendly. Slowly the island, the house and its inhabitants begin to give up their secrets, William, and the former nanny who is now missing are labelled dangerous and evil. Meanwhile the regular ghostly and unexplained events seek to ratch up an even deeper sense of foreboding, and “beyond the sounds of the island, another sound made itself heard: the faintest of whistles” This is another perfect dose of spook-ology. The author delivers a wonderfully menacing story whilst maintaining the suspense throughout as she unspools the tales of bygone days. The plot, ambiance, writing, and pace was excellent, but the characterisation was fabulous and made the book for me. The author created a sense of vulnerability in all the characters whilst at the same time making them capable of menace. So, it was difficult to predict the outcome which I loved. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and perfect to end my spooky challenge.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    A menacing, spooky story with enough rope to guide the reader through the past and the present. With the past coming to light gradually this lead me to wonder how this ties in up to date, no fear of it wandering off at all. This historical events of the past come uniquely up to haunt us. The writing was exquisite, the pace very satisfying for me as a reader. It was spooky and chilling giving me goosebumps in places like someone on the Misty hills wondering whose out there. The character (Nanny) of A menacing, spooky story with enough rope to guide the reader through the past and the present. With the past coming to light gradually this lead me to wonder how this ties in up to date, no fear of it wandering off at all. This historical events of the past come uniquely up to haunt us. The writing was exquisite, the pace very satisfying for me as a reader. It was spooky and chilling giving me goosebumps in places like someone on the Misty hills wondering whose out there. The character (Nanny) of past who vanished and the Nanny of present day was awesomely done. I loved everything about this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Langford

    4**** This was another great autumn read with ghostly chills and mystery. When I first requested this book I had no clue it was actually a historical fiction novel (that’s also a horror) so it was a surprise! The novel begins in 1860 with Elspeth, our MC, on a jutting boat, arriving on the fictional and isolated island of Skelthsea (set off of Scotland). She has left her old life in Edinburgh behind, and in this new place she is to become a nanny to a girl called Mary. Upon Elspeth’s arrival, she 4**** This was another great autumn read with ghostly chills and mystery. When I first requested this book I had no clue it was actually a historical fiction novel (that’s also a horror) so it was a surprise! The novel begins in 1860 with Elspeth, our MC, on a jutting boat, arriving on the fictional and isolated island of Skelthsea (set off of Scotland). She has left her old life in Edinburgh behind, and in this new place she is to become a nanny to a girl called Mary. Upon Elspeth’s arrival, she realises that she will be employed in the grandest home on the island called ‘Iskar’ which is also the most imposing grand house on the island, situated on top of a hill, isolated from the village- basically all the things that alert to “Haunted House”. In addition, Elspeth finds that her new charge, Mary, in recent months has experienced the sudden abandonment of Hettie (the previously beloved nanny) and the sudden death of her twin brother, rendering her mute. As Elspeth slowly gets to know Mary and the household, with experiences of sightings and hearing odd things, she realises all is not right in Iskar, and she will do all she can to protect Mary. Within the first 5% of the book this already had all of the markings of a gothic book: Victorian setting; MC being introduced to a new area; twins; a mute child; a new nanny; secrets; mentions of witchcraft; a history of death; and a big, isolated house on some island. Despite this book having the typical “checklist” it was still so good and I quickly sped through it. The author does so well in describing Iskar that it’s almost it’s own character, you can easily imagine the house and the town and the isolation. It was an eerie setting and the author made me feel this. In addition, the author did so well in making me turn the pages. This book was wrapped up in “strange-goings-on”, mystery and beliefs that I needed to find out more. I read this book fairly quickly- in 3 sittings I believe. I really enjoyed the eeriness and the mystery behind this book. I also enjoyed the MC as she was curious and naive and we got to see her own pain and experience too. Sometimes I thought the MC was a little too naive... but that might be because I’ve watched and read a lot of thrillers and now I end up questioning each characters motives. Thank you to NetGalley for this E-Arc.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    Elspeth Swansome is still grieving for her deceased younger sister, Clara, when she enrols as the new nanny to a family on the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea. Her new home is plagued with the same suffering she knows innately as her young charge, Mary, hasn't spoken a word since her brother was taken from her. These two sad souls are drawn towards each other and ease the burden of their pasts with the solace of each other. But grief quickly proves to be the least of the entities they need t Elspeth Swansome is still grieving for her deceased younger sister, Clara, when she enrols as the new nanny to a family on the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea. Her new home is plagued with the same suffering she knows innately as her young charge, Mary, hasn't spoken a word since her brother was taken from her. These two sad souls are drawn towards each other and ease the burden of their pasts with the solace of each other. But grief quickly proves to be the least of the entities they need to ward themselves against. I was immediately immersed in this mysterious and eerie story. Mary's arrival was cloaked in drama and I felt the brooding setting become a silent character witnessing the events that occurred inside of it. I loved how the beauty of this isolated setting was offset by depictions of its loneliness, and also how many of the building's characteristics were shared by the central characters. Menace seeped from these pages and I became as plagued with paranoia as the characters who featured inside the pages, and were constantly awaiting their next ordeal. Bumps in the night and shifting shadows were the least of all that occurred here... The direction for this story was unforeseen, as was the root of the hauntings and mysteries. It proved to be the perfect spooky and Gothic read throughout and I am already eager to discover what mischief Rebecca Netley can next conjure. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Rebecca Netley, and the publisher, Michael Joseph, for this opportunity.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    Really enjoyed this read. I'm all about the chilly reading in the lead up to spooky month and this ticked a lot of boxes for me. A wild, isolated setting, a possibly haunted house, a silent child and a huge dose of witchery woo. Whats not to love? It is creepy, found it played on my mind if I read it after dark and it is beautifully written. Its an intriguing and addictive take on the classic "Nanny heads to isolated spot to take care of strange child" theme and Rebecca Netley does a superb job of Really enjoyed this read. I'm all about the chilly reading in the lead up to spooky month and this ticked a lot of boxes for me. A wild, isolated setting, a possibly haunted house, a silent child and a huge dose of witchery woo. Whats not to love? It is creepy, found it played on my mind if I read it after dark and it is beautifully written. Its an intriguing and addictive take on the classic "Nanny heads to isolated spot to take care of strange child" theme and Rebecca Netley does a superb job of keeping you on edge throughout. It has the twisty sense of a psychological thriller and the disconcerting feel of a ghost story, those two things working in perfect harmony to deliver an excellent read. Recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    In 1860, a young woman arrives on the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea to begin a job as a nanny. Elspeth Swansome is looking to escape her life after the tragic death of her sister; she immediately forms a kinship with her charge, 9-year-old Mary, who has not spoken since her twin William passed away. Yet Elspeth also senses hostility on the island. People seem strangely reluctant to tell her how William died or what happened to the twins’ previous nanny. And the there’s that whistling sound In 1860, a young woman arrives on the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea to begin a job as a nanny. Elspeth Swansome is looking to escape her life after the tragic death of her sister; she immediately forms a kinship with her charge, 9-year-old Mary, who has not spoken since her twin William passed away. Yet Elspeth also senses hostility on the island. People seem strangely reluctant to tell her how William died or what happened to the twins’ previous nanny. And the there’s that whistling sound she keeps hearing... The setting of The Whistling is perfect, and to some extent the atmosphere matches it. I could picture both Skelthsea and the house distinctly: cold sea breeze, icy rain, wild cliff paths, peat smoke on the air. However, the rest of it just didn’t come together for me. The characters seem empty; the plot and structure feel like they need a few revisions. Elspeth seems to accept that something supernatural is going on before anything has really happened, and the remainder of the story is a mess of red herrings and uninteresting subplots. On top of that, the motive of the ‘villain’ is the kind of cliche that verges on offensive. I hoped The Whistling would be this year’s The Apparition Phase, but no such luck. It fits comfortably into the ‘gothic chiller’ niche inhabited by books like The Silent Companions. There’s not an original idea to be found in this story, and while I don’t think that has to be a bad thing when it comes to this genre, there are simply too many better versions out there. I’d recommend The Lost Ones and The Quickening, two similar recent reads I found more enjoyable (both of which also happen to involve imposing houses and ghostly children). I received an advance review copy of The Whistling from the publisher through NetGalley. TinyLetter | Linktree

  8. 4 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Discover the locations within The Whistling * if you dare* whoah haha If it’s a spooky story you are after, then this is the one for you! Whispers in corridors, whistling winds, unexplained sightings and a sense of foreboding throughout. The set up is perfect for this time of year. As the dark nights draw in, a nanny heads to a remote Scottish island. She is running from a troubled past and hopes to have a fresh start. However, that’s not going to happen. Her charge is mute and there’s tragedy in Discover the locations within The Whistling * if you dare* whoah haha If it’s a spooky story you are after, then this is the one for you! Whispers in corridors, whistling winds, unexplained sightings and a sense of foreboding throughout. The set up is perfect for this time of year. As the dark nights draw in, a nanny heads to a remote Scottish island. She is running from a troubled past and hopes to have a fresh start. However, that’s not going to happen. Her charge is mute and there’s tragedy in her past. To make matters worse, the former nanny unexplainably disappeared. Now that is a good set of spooky ingredients right? The setting and evocation of island life is fascinating to read about. It all feels very real and spooky. A decaying house with shadows and secrets? Whistling that can’t be explained? A missing nanny and a mute child? An island shrouded in mist and mystery? This is not one to read at night as I found it genuinely unsettling. I am a sucker for punishment and read it on a backlit Kindle paperwhite at night. Whoah haha. That worked well! I didn’t dream at all of the events of the book afterwards. Managed to sleep every night straight through without problems. Yes, totally. This is THE book for Halloween and those dark winter nights.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    It’s this time of year that I start looking for spooky, atmospheric reads and THE WHISTLING fitted that category perfectly, from its cover to its claustrophobic setting seasoned with plenty of spooky vibes. Its basic premise is an oldie but a goodie: a nanny arrives on a remote Scottish island to take up a position in a grand old manor house, full of hope for a better future and to escape her own personal tragedy. She soon discovers, however, that there may be a good reason the previous nanny le It’s this time of year that I start looking for spooky, atmospheric reads and THE WHISTLING fitted that category perfectly, from its cover to its claustrophobic setting seasoned with plenty of spooky vibes. Its basic premise is an oldie but a goodie: a nanny arrives on a remote Scottish island to take up a position in a grand old manor house, full of hope for a better future and to escape her own personal tragedy. She soon discovers, however, that there may be a good reason the previous nanny left in a hurry, never to be seen again. Elspeth’s charge, nine year old Mary, is so traumatised after the death of her mother and her brother, that she has been mute ever since. Her aunt, a stern, austere woman, will not speak of the past. And the house itself harbours secrets that may lay in a realm outside the human consciousness (let’s just come out with it, the house is haunted!). I loved the way Netley set the scene. From the moment Elspeth arrived on the island, I could picture it all vividly. The rugged coastline, so stunning in summer, that turns sinister and dangerous in the cold, dark and misty days of winter. The old house, grand from a distance, but with signs of neglect that run deeper than just financial – and of course there are rooms that shall not be entered, and secrets that shall not ever be spoken of. Dark corridors, lit only by flickering candle light. Hostile servants. Whispers in the night, objects that are never in the same place, dusty portraits staring down from the walls, an eerie lullaby coming from the nursery at night. Netley’s descriptive writing brought it all vividly to life in my head. And Elspeth’s own tragic past made her a well rounded character whose motives and aspirations I could easily relate to. From here follows a story that may not reinvent the traditional haunted house story, but runs with the tropes and uses them well to create a tense, eerie atmosphere. Apart from supernatural vibes, there is a whisper of witchcraft and wise women that fits in well with the era and the setting. I read this at night and got the full effect of the spooky atmosphere. The mystery at the heart of the story gave it extra depth, even though I felt that the ending felt a bit rushed to me after the deliciously slow and tense build-up. All in all, THE WHISTLING is a beautifully written, haunting novel with a classical haunted mansion theme and a wonderful atmospheric setting. Netley’s writing has a dreamlike, almost wistful quality that made it easy to emotionally connect with the characters, the place and the era it is set in. If you love spooky old houses, the dark corridors of Skelthsea’s manor will lure you in and send shivers up your spine. If you are looking for a perfect Halloween read, and love slower, atmospheric novels in the vein of Laura Purcell or Michelle Paver, then look no further! Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review. *blog* *facebook* *instagram*

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen Barber

    The Whistling is a hauntingly atmospheric story, set on a remote Scottish island and harnessing all the elements of Gothic tales to create a richly satisfying read. Elspeth is a young woman, left upset after the recent death of her sister, who has come to a remote Scottish island to look after a young girl called Mary. From the moment she arrives she hears strange tales of the house and its inhabitants, the seeds of distrust are sewn and we watch as Elspeth tries to uncover exactly what is happen The Whistling is a hauntingly atmospheric story, set on a remote Scottish island and harnessing all the elements of Gothic tales to create a richly satisfying read. Elspeth is a young woman, left upset after the recent death of her sister, who has come to a remote Scottish island to look after a young girl called Mary. From the moment she arrives she hears strange tales of the house and its inhabitants, the seeds of distrust are sewn and we watch as Elspeth tries to uncover exactly what is happening. Her young charge is mute and suffers extreme nightmares. Elspeth quickly succumbs to the charms of feeling useful and developing a bond with this young girl who has not spoken since the death of her brother. No one can establish what has happened, but rumours circulate the island and the sense of oppression and menace grows. As the story progresses we focus on the background to some of the characters, and the development of the suitably eerie island they call home. Unexplained events and strange noises are made to seem quite terrifying, and yet I admired the strength of character shown by Elspeth as she tries to navigate this place. Perhaps this is to be expected, but our heroine makes mistakes and her own shortcomings are exploited perfectly by those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. The final stages of the book shifted in a not wholly unexpected direction, though I have to say the actual revelation was deftly handled. This was a book I found myself immersed in, and I’m grateful to the publishers and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read it prior to publication in exchange for my honest thoughts.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Rebecca Netley’s debut novel The Whistling is an eerie ghost story set in Scotland in 1860. After her beloved sister Clara dies in a tragic accident leaving her with no familial ties, narrator Elspeth Swansome leaves Edinburgh to take up a post of a nanny at Skelthsea, a fictional island off the North coast of Scotland. Like Elspeth, her charge Mary has seen her fair share of tragedies, first losing her parents and then her twin brother William. Mary now lives with her aunt, Miss Gillies, at Isk Rebecca Netley’s debut novel The Whistling is an eerie ghost story set in Scotland in 1860. After her beloved sister Clara dies in a tragic accident leaving her with no familial ties, narrator Elspeth Swansome leaves Edinburgh to take up a post of a nanny at Skelthsea, a fictional island off the North coast of Scotland. Like Elspeth, her charge Mary has seen her fair share of tragedies, first losing her parents and then her twin brother William. Mary now lives with her aunt, Miss Gillies, at Iskar, a decaying mansion on the island. Elspeth’s main challenge is to get Mary to speak, since the girl has not uttered a word since William’s death. But things are more complicated than they first appear. Neither the members of the household nor the villagers are keen to speak about what happened to William. To make matters worse, something is definitely “off” at Iskar, and Elspeth is haunted by strange whistling and humming at night and other ghostly manifestations. The nanny might well be the victim of an overactive imagination fuelled by grief, except that she also starts coming across strange-looking dolls and charms suggesting dark magical practices. As winter approaches and travelling to the mainland becomes increasingly difficult, Elspeth’s oppressive sense of foreboding intensifies, and it soon becomes clear that action needs to be taken if further tragedies are to be averted. Reading The Whistling feels like snuggling into a favourite old jumper. The “haunted nanny” is such a well-worn trope it could be considered a sub-genre, and the novel delights in reproposing the familiar elements of the classic ghost story: nightly escapades, spectral visitations, abandoned rooms, Gothic-infused landscapes of cliffs, beach and storm-roiled seas… You name it, and it’s probably there. Even the evocative chiaroscuro book cover fits into this “traditional” aesthetic. But Netley, who won the Exeter Prize with The Whistling, certainly knows how to repackage these ingredients into an enjoyable novel, strong on atmosphere and plot-twists. This is definitely a book to savour during the haunted seasons of Halloween or Christmas! https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/20...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Mitchell

    The Whistling is a spooky gothic story of love and loss, of tragedy and revenge, of summoning others to do your bidding when you're unable to do it yourself. I absolutely loved it. I've been struggling to read lately, given I spend so much time writing myself. I was fortunate enough to receive an early copy of this paperback from my agent and I brought it on holiday. As soon as I started reading, I barely found time to look up from the page. Netley has a gift when it comes to describing setting, The Whistling is a spooky gothic story of love and loss, of tragedy and revenge, of summoning others to do your bidding when you're unable to do it yourself. I absolutely loved it. I've been struggling to read lately, given I spend so much time writing myself. I was fortunate enough to receive an early copy of this paperback from my agent and I brought it on holiday. As soon as I started reading, I barely found time to look up from the page. Netley has a gift when it comes to describing setting, nothing is overdone but she portrays the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea in such a way that you can sense every ounce of its being, along with the crumbling home of Iskar and the people within. I particularly enjoyed trying to work out who could be trusted and who could not. This is not horror novel but rather a silently creeping gothic mystery that finds its way to your bones. The story is beautifully told in such a haunting manner that it will play on your mind long after you finally rest the pages. It reminded me very much of a Susan Hill novel and I look forward to Netley's next offering.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dan Bassett

    Alone in the world, Elspeth Swansome has taken the position of nanny to a family on a remote and somewhat overlooked Scottish island which seems like the ideal getaway from her own troubled past but upon meeting her charge, Mary, she already grows doubtful of just how she will cope. Mary is highly secretive and hasn’t spoken one word since the untimely death of her twin, William which took place mere days after their former nanny mysteriously disappeared, even if it seemed that she loved the twin Alone in the world, Elspeth Swansome has taken the position of nanny to a family on a remote and somewhat overlooked Scottish island which seems like the ideal getaway from her own troubled past but upon meeting her charge, Mary, she already grows doubtful of just how she will cope. Mary is highly secretive and hasn’t spoken one word since the untimely death of her twin, William which took place mere days after their former nanny mysteriously disappeared, even if it seemed that she loved the twins but if that was the case why would she up and leave them overnight? With no one in the household to trust or turn to, Elspeth finds solace in an islander who helps her piece together the much fractured past of both the house and Mary. However, no amount of reasoning can explain the lullabies sung down long abandoned corridors, the strange dolls appearing at every turn, stones twined with human hair, and the faint whistling which only comes at night. And why are there so many areas of this grand yet decaying house off limits to Elspeth? What could be hidden in those old, dusty rooms which hold so many memories? As the creeping chill and darkness of winter slowly takes over, the threat of no access to the mainland looming, Elspeth must make sense of just what is happening before the whistling claims another victim but can this be done with the sense that something or someone longs to make those who only want answers suffer? Haunting, chilling and dripping with sinister atmosphere, this is one ghost story sure to keep you awake at night.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Luella

    Many thanks to Netgalley, Penguin Random House UK for the advanced reading copy of The Whistling. And to Rebecca Netley who wrote a book that actually made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Rebecca Netleys writing is incredibly descriptive, which is perfect for a book of this nature. The descriptions allow you to feel like you're actually there and sets the atmosphere. I could almost feel the cold rain on my face and fierce wind blowing through my bones. Our main character Elspeth has ha Many thanks to Netgalley, Penguin Random House UK for the advanced reading copy of The Whistling. And to Rebecca Netley who wrote a book that actually made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Rebecca Netleys writing is incredibly descriptive, which is perfect for a book of this nature. The descriptions allow you to feel like you're actually there and sets the atmosphere. I could almost feel the cold rain on my face and fierce wind blowing through my bones. Our main character Elspeth has has a traumatic time and needs to get away from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh. She takes a job to be a nanny in Skelthsea, a tiny island in Scotland. When the boat arrives at Skelthsea, Elspeth gets the first glimpse of what is to be her new home. Iskar is the largest house on the island and has been in the family for many years. It's old creaky floor boards, thread bare carpet and dimly lit rooms were not quite what Elspeth had expected. But she is eager to meet Mary, the little girl who she will be spending most of her time at Iskar taking care of. But it soon becomes clear that all is not well with Mary. After losing her twin brother the girl is understandably grieving but is that all that haunts her?!? They soon become close but can Mary be trusted. Or is there someone else that Elspeth should be worried about.... I read this in 2 sittings, wrapped up under a blanket, with just a candle for light. It really is the perfect read for this time of year, it has all you want in an autumn read, especially on the lead up to Halloween. I loved the dark, gothic vibes of the old house and the island itself. And the character building is fantastic, you really get to know them and become fond of (most) of them, even if you are unsure who is good and who is bad. It's hard to believe that this is Rebecca Netleys debut novel, I will be patiently anticipating her next release. I think we can expect more great things to come.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Pretty good gothic ghost story about a young woman running from her past who goes to a remote Island to be a nanny to a young selectively mute girl. It has well drawn characters and is satisfactorily puzzling and spooky. For fans of Laura Purcell.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm Blogger

    As per our usual routine we split the book into 5 sections and discussed every Saturday. A lot of us don’t usually read horror but we fancied something spooky for this months read. We had heard great things about this one so a lot of us were excited to get started and a little nervous about what the book would be like. Week One This weeks section ended on a cliff hanger. A lot of us felt that the story had just got going and we were enjoying it so far. We had lots of questions particularly about H As per our usual routine we split the book into 5 sections and discussed every Saturday. A lot of us don’t usually read horror but we fancied something spooky for this months read. We had heard great things about this one so a lot of us were excited to get started and a little nervous about what the book would be like. Week One This weeks section ended on a cliff hanger. A lot of us felt that the story had just got going and we were enjoying it so far. We had lots of questions particularly about Hettie and William but we really hoped there was going to be some big twist to the final section. The setting of Skelthsea certainly had an eerie atmosphere and you can tell not all was as it seemed. Greer seemed to be a big focus of our conversation, a lot of us were wondering why she didn’t like Elspeth. Was she jealous of Hettie? Like I said we had a lot of questions and couldn’t wait to start the next part. Week Two This is proving to be the perfect October read, I love the spookiness and eerie atmosphere! Our chat this week focused around Mary. Some of us were questioning her involvement in what happened with Hettie and William and some of us wondered if she was the key to all the answers. Elspeth is a formidable character and a lot of us commend her for sticking out the job and not running a mile! We love that she it trying to rationalise everything that is happening and refusing to believe it could be supernatural, it makes it all the more realistic for us readers. Elspeth’s history with her sister was intriguing as well. Could there be more to that than meets the eye? We were also wondering what was going on between Violet and Greer. They obviously have a connection and we’re interested to learn the backstory of Violet’s scar. Week Three We finally got some answers to Hettie’s disappearance and Violet’s backstory but we now have more questions! I’m starting to think that Mary is just an innocent bystander in all of this and has been scared into silence. I’m not sure by who but she has clearly decided that not speaking will keep her safe. We were saddened to see how keen Violet was to send Violet away which only makes her seem more guilty in our eyes. Greer is still a hot topic of conversation and we’re wondering if she’s being painted as an accomplice but it actually not involved at all? Some of the group feel that things are moving a little slow at the moment. We’re not sure if this is because our weekly sections are quite small but we hope that the final two weeks start to up in action and we get a satisfactory ending. Week Four I thought this week left us with a big cliff hanger and that made me want to read the next section asap. We finally learnt more about Greer and I can see now why she is the way she is but I’m still not convinced that she is responsible for the murders. I’m starting to cast the guilty light elsewhere and wonder if Alias is as helpful as she seems? Who knows what will happen but I have a feeling the final revelations will surprise us all. As a group the majority are enjoying this one and we love that none of us can tell where it is going. Some of us have also been terrified by the scenes in the attic and the whistle, it has certainly made our skin crawling and got the heart racing! Week Five Suffice to say I didn’t see that ending happening. The culprit was not who I thought it was and it was nice to be surprised. The final section built to a climatic ending and we finally had our answers to all of our questions. The most touching moment for me was how the relationship between Elspeth and Mary developed throughout the story. From her actions you could tell that Mary felt most secure with Elspeth and the final scenes only demonstrated how far they had both come. I also enjoyed the conversation between Elspeth and Greer, it was enlightening and gave some vital answers to our questions. For me this was a great read that held all the spooky, eerie vibes you’d expect from a gothic story. It’s a slow burning read with an atmosphere that quietly sneaks up on you and completely engulfs you, by the end I wasn’t sure what I did and didn’t believe.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dee

    ⭐️ 3 ⭐️ This well-written, character driven story is creepy and atmospheric. Set on a remote Scottish island, the description of which adds weight to the general feeling of eeriness and foreboding. The characters are well rounded and believable. The story is nicely plotted, with twists and turns I didn’t predict. If you don’t like your stories too scary, then this is the book for you, I prefer to be totally petrified! The pacing is quite slow, sometimes a little too slow for my liking, but still an ⭐️ 3 ⭐️ This well-written, character driven story is creepy and atmospheric. Set on a remote Scottish island, the description of which adds weight to the general feeling of eeriness and foreboding. The characters are well rounded and believable. The story is nicely plotted, with twists and turns I didn’t predict. If you don’t like your stories too scary, then this is the book for you, I prefer to be totally petrified! The pacing is quite slow, sometimes a little too slow for my liking, but still an enjoyable read. Perfect for the spooky season. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC, in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    This was a little bit of a weird one for me as I ordered a copy without knowing anything about it at all. I remember a few months back seeing pictures of the proofs all over my socials. It looked like such a beautiful book that I ordered it on impulse. I know this could have gone either way but I'm lucky enough that I can afford a few wrong steps with books and it not be the end of things. But this is not where I'm going with this one. The point is sometimes you luck out and come across somethi This was a little bit of a weird one for me as I ordered a copy without knowing anything about it at all. I remember a few months back seeing pictures of the proofs all over my socials. It looked like such a beautiful book that I ordered it on impulse. I know this could have gone either way but I'm lucky enough that I can afford a few wrong steps with books and it not be the end of things. But this is not where I'm going with this one. The point is sometimes you luck out and come across something you were not really expecting. Now I love a good ghost story those old-fashioned ones that creep and scutter around the edges of our peripheral vision and you are left wondering if what just happened really did in fact happen. This has been spurred on of late by the shows of Mike Flanagan and his Haunting series. Those tales that walk the line between what we know is real and that cold shiver out of know where that says beware. So when I finally got around to reading the blurb it was pretty much a win-win. Just the book I didn't realize I need to be reading. We are guided into this world that Netley has created so very gently. Elspeth seems to be going for a job that is well within her means. Having found herself alone in the world and in need of a job a nannying job on a remote island would seem like a very safe bet for her. An escape from her past and a fresh start looking after someone who is in great need of it. She is our port of safety throughout this tale. The one person we can trust to tell us the truth. Despite all she has been through, she has a kind heart. And the author has done a remarkable job of contrasting this against the island's inhabitants. She shines like a beacon in the dark guiding us onwards to the conclusion. But with each revelation, we start to dismantle these treacherous rocks. And whilst we may never know every corner of this wild island, we can at least feel safer on our footing. I loved getting to know each of the players in this period piece. Netley never wastes one of her characters, each of them is a building block to help us delve deeper into the collective suspension and mistrust of the islanders. This is definitely one of those books that builds layers upon layers. She is really good at mixing up what we know to be real. So the treachery and secrets that these people are trying too hard to keep buried. And that which let's be honest steps one foot into tales of the strange and peculiar. But it's within this blending of worlds that we find our footing and it makes her tale really come alive. At no point did that more ghostly elements pull me out of the story. You become so engrossed in the tale that if you listen closely enough you could swear you can hear someone moving about just behind you. But that is what a good ghost story does for us. It lurks about in that area just between real and complete disbelief. It plays on our primordial fears. And for me, that's what this author gets, she knows what she is aiming for and hits it dead on. Now I must confess it is not often that I pick up books such as this but when I do I often find that I love them. And whilst this may not be rewriting the wheel she did give me what I was looking for. After all, at the heart of every good ghost story is heartbreak and a mystery. For me without these two elements, they fall flat. We need the longing and just a smidge of hope for them to work. And when the final curtain is drawn we might get a few of the answers we were looking for but there is still that thing in the dark of the night that you can't quite shake.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Horror DNA

    As a proud Scotsman in exile, I am always interested in spooky stories set in my homeland; tales which spirit me back to my childhood in the windswept north-east coastal area of the country. Sadly, Rebecca Netley’s debut, The Whistling, failed to fire my imagination and the location, the fictional island of Skelthsea, undoubtedly has something to do with it. There are countless breezy, desolate and atmospheric spots in the Western Isles, so I saw little logic in fabricating this key setting. To As a proud Scotsman in exile, I am always interested in spooky stories set in my homeland; tales which spirit me back to my childhood in the windswept north-east coastal area of the country. Sadly, Rebecca Netley’s debut, The Whistling, failed to fire my imagination and the location, the fictional island of Skelthsea, undoubtedly has something to do with it. There are countless breezy, desolate and atmospheric spots in the Western Isles, so I saw little logic in fabricating this key setting. To a Scotsman, this feels somewhat like cheating and genuine places like Mull, Skye, or Barra, for example, would have made this tale much more authentic. Francine Toon's Pine is a terrific recent example of a recent ghost story which did exactly that, making excellent use of its rugged north of Scotland location. You can read Tony's full review at Horror DNA by clicking here.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    The Whistling is a superior, well-written chiller set on a remote Scottish island. Elspeth comes to the island of Skelthsea as nanny for a young girl called Mary. Mary has lost both her mother and brother in recent times and hasn't spoken since her brother's death. As Elspeth gets to know her new charge, spooky goings-on start to abound and she finds herself beset by foes both human and supernatural. Netley deftly creates both an ominous atmosphere and an intriguing mystery. At times the book is The Whistling is a superior, well-written chiller set on a remote Scottish island. Elspeth comes to the island of Skelthsea as nanny for a young girl called Mary. Mary has lost both her mother and brother in recent times and hasn't spoken since her brother's death. As Elspeth gets to know her new charge, spooky goings-on start to abound and she finds herself beset by foes both human and supernatural. Netley deftly creates both an ominous atmosphere and an intriguing mystery. At times the book is as much a whodunnit/whytheydidit as it is a traditional ghost story. Elspeth is a strong leading character and the supporting cast of islanders all provide colour. I thoroughly enjoyed this and recommend it to anyone looking for a traditional ghost story. Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and author for an ARC in return for an honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    A dark, slow-burning story with some intriguing characters, set on a small island in Scotland. More mystery than horror, it keeps you hooked as the story is gradually revealed. With ghostly presences and strange goings-on, it's a great read for this time of year! A dark, slow-burning story with some intriguing characters, set on a small island in Scotland. More mystery than horror, it keeps you hooked as the story is gradually revealed. With ghostly presences and strange goings-on, it's a great read for this time of year!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Faichney

    Rebecca Netley's "The Whistling" is beautifully written, atmospheric and tense. It's the perfect read for these dark nights. Reminiscent of du Maurier's "Rebecca" in style, the creepy house, Iskar, feels like a character in itself. I particularly liked how Netley kept me guessing until the bitter end. Coming up with theories made for some interesting book group discussion! Rebecca Netley's "The Whistling" is beautifully written, atmospheric and tense. It's the perfect read for these dark nights. Reminiscent of du Maurier's "Rebecca" in style, the creepy house, Iskar, feels like a character in itself. I particularly liked how Netley kept me guessing until the bitter end. Coming up with theories made for some interesting book group discussion!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emandherbooks

    This was our book club October read and I enjoyed it but didn’t LOVE it! It was a little slow in places for me and I tend to struggle with getting ‘scared’ by books… It’s a character driven, eery story based against the perfect backdrop. It was haunting and chilling places but it did start to wear thin around half way through for me. If you like a spooky ghost story, this ones for you.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Smith

    A book set on a remote Scottish island, you say? Count me in! The Whistling is set on the island of Skelthsea where Elspeth travels from Edinburgh in 1860 to take up a position as nanny to Mary, a young girl who has recently lost her twin brother. Elspeth's feelings are in tune with Mary's, having recently also suffered a tragic bereavement of her own. Mary lives at Iskar with her aunt, a cook and a couple of servants. This is not a happy tale, but one of sinister goings on in the closed off roo A book set on a remote Scottish island, you say? Count me in! The Whistling is set on the island of Skelthsea where Elspeth travels from Edinburgh in 1860 to take up a position as nanny to Mary, a young girl who has recently lost her twin brother. Elspeth's feelings are in tune with Mary's, having recently also suffered a tragic bereavement of her own. Mary lives at Iskar with her aunt, a cook and a couple of servants. This is not a happy tale, but one of sinister goings on in the closed off rooms of the house, hummed lullabies in the corridors, dolls and a strange sound of whistling. I loved the setting of this book. Island life has its own particular set of ways and Skelthsea is no different. It's a small community and felt very insular and at times unwelcoming. I thought the author did a marvellous job at portraying this, especially for Elspeth coming from a big city. I'll be honest and say that ghost stories aren't always my thing. Maybe it's an inability to let myself suspend disbelief and just go with it. However, I have to say that Rebecca Netley's narrative is as convincing as I could find a ghost story and is certainly well-written and well-constructed, with an initial slow burn building up to a crescendo of an ending. I liked the idea of the whistling and the story behind it along with the elements of witchery which really created a creepy and ominous vibe. I liked Elspeth, who I found plucky and determined. I particularly enjoyed her relationship with her charge, Mary, and how that developed throughout the story. Whilst, perhaps in the very depths of my mind, I had an idea of how part of the ending might pan out, it was still a surprise and I thought it a clever way to add an unexpected ingredient to the mix. I thought The Whistling was a beautifully written and intricate gothic tale with an atmospheric setting……and remember…..if you can hear it…..it's already too late.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kath

    I'm not really a one for reading within seasons... I like to pick what I fancy by mood rather than time or weather... but I do love a spooky read on the run up to Halloween which, if you ask the supermarkets starts in about August! So, Elspeth Swansome up sticks and leaves her scant life to travel to a remote Scottish island to take up the position of nanny to Mary. Sounds simple enough, if a little remote but then again, Elspeth isn't really leaving anything or anybody behind so she pretty much I'm not really a one for reading within seasons... I like to pick what I fancy by mood rather than time or weather... but I do love a spooky read on the run up to Halloween which, if you ask the supermarkets starts in about August! So, Elspeth Swansome up sticks and leaves her scant life to travel to a remote Scottish island to take up the position of nanny to Mary. Sounds simple enough, if a little remote but then again, Elspeth isn't really leaving anything or anybody behind so she pretty much doesn't mind where she goes. But Mary is not without her challenges as, since the day her twin brother William died suddenly, she hasn't said a word. This trauma has literally left her speechless, which is no surprise when you also consider it came shortly after her former nanny disappeared. Double tragic whammy for one so young. Especially given her past before too. Elspeth tries and makes the best of things, she works hard to gain Mary's trust, actually, the trust of the whole household. But there are things of which no one will speak, not least the circumstances surrounding the death of William. But then there are the noises that come at night. And these can't all be passed off as the wind whistling through an old house. There's singing and then there's the dolls... And then when they get cut off completely from the mainland, well... that's when things really get scary... The author does a great job setting the scene and atmosphere. The way she describes the island and the house really does give a claustrophobic feeling which only adds to the spookiness. Add the weather into the mix and, well tension and suspicion abounds. And then there's the storyline, and backstory. How Mary came to live with her Aunt there at Iskar. All played out by some very well described characters who were all easy to connect to / emote with. Layers upon layers of intrigue build up as the tension mounts leading to what can only be described as a shocking but wholly satisfying ending. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wiz

    Winner of the 2018 Exeter Novel prize, Rebecca Netley’s The Whistling is at once an atmospheric ghost story that takes its cue from the gothic tradition, and a beautifully rendered examination of loss and recovery. Set in the late 1800’s, it follows the journey of a young nanny, Elspeth, whose attempt to escape the tragic loss of her family leads her away from the urban gaze of Edinburgh to the fictional Scottish island of Skelthsea. Here, her raw emotional state finds its physical counterpoint n Winner of the 2018 Exeter Novel prize, Rebecca Netley’s The Whistling is at once an atmospheric ghost story that takes its cue from the gothic tradition, and a beautifully rendered examination of loss and recovery. Set in the late 1800’s, it follows the journey of a young nanny, Elspeth, whose attempt to escape the tragic loss of her family leads her away from the urban gaze of Edinburgh to the fictional Scottish island of Skelthsea. Here, her raw emotional state finds its physical counterpoint not only in the fierce and unforgiving landscape but in the decaying manor house called Iskar and Elspeth’s new young charge Mary with whose care she has been assigned. Both the obstacle and the compulsion of this new post becomes quickly apparent when we discover that Mary has been mute since the mysterious death of her brother William, a challenge which presents itself to Elspeth not only as an opportunity to rehabilitate the child but, in doing so, find atonement for herself and her enduring sense of guilt around the loss of her own sibling. Of course, “all is not well at Iskar” and before long the first seeds of an unwelcome presence in the house make themselves known. Just as in the most resonant gothic novels - from The Haunting of Hill House to The Turn of the Screw - these initial signs are initially conceivable as manifestations of a troubled psychology, but as the novel progresses we learn that there is indeed a more supernatural, external element at play. Netley is extremely impressive at inhabiting the mise-en-scene of her terrain: the harsh island landscape and the slow rot of Iskar itself is both beautifully visual and rendered in a formal, but always readable, lyrical prose which immerses the reader throughout. The first part of the novel, remarked upon by other readers as slower in pace, is to my mind essential to the establishment of both the stakes and the emotional engagement with its protagonist, and something which elevates the story to more than its branding within the horror genre. Yes, there are chilling moments within the book, but to come to it expecting a litany of more visceral tropes would be to mistake the intention of it. This is because beneath its (sometimes obviously) supernatural veneer is a deeper story about grief and loss and the compulsion to find atonement in the salvation of others, for in Elspeth’s quest to break the cycle of evil and superstition that has enveloped Skelthsea is a broader question about the liberation of guilt. Most of the characters in the novel constellate around this theme of personal responsibility, be it towards a greater sense of peace or, conversely, towards further denial. From a very personal perspective, I would have loved to have seen this element explored more, specifically how the idea of female agency and emotional trauma were treated historically with its socio-political links to witchcraft and the use of asylums. In addition, I would also have liked, perhaps, for the more sinister aspects of the story to be more clearly indistinguishable from the psyche of its characters, and/or a sense of being more motivated or conjured by the emotional wounds that bind them. I am thinking especially of Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger, which masterfully keeps its terror purely within the possibilities of the human mind, tightly entwining its examinations of class and envy within the fabric of its thematic haunting. These are subjective things, of course, and in no way limits the enjoyment of Netley’s book which more than earns its readers’ attention. The skillful plotting and deliberate sleight of hand she demonstrates towards the end of the novel especially, shows both talent and confidence in abundance. Most importantly, we find ourselves absolutely rooting for Elspeth; touched by her growing emotional surrogacy for Mary, and her believable trajectory towards a greater sense of bravery and closure. My thanks to the author, NetGalley and the publisher, Penguin Michael Joseph, for an ARC of this novel in return for an unbiased review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This is a good read for this time of year, although it is very slow to get going. I did a little ‘jump for joy’ when, at precisely 200 pages, the plot finally gathered momentum. There are some beautifully written phrases here, some delicate and tender touches throughout: '[S]omething had crept up on me, as quietly as winter to spring itself until, without warning, buds are springing from the empty branches and snowdrops pushing through the slumberous earth. I loved her. I loved her like my own.' I This is a good read for this time of year, although it is very slow to get going. I did a little ‘jump for joy’ when, at precisely 200 pages, the plot finally gathered momentum. There are some beautifully written phrases here, some delicate and tender touches throughout: '[S]omething had crept up on me, as quietly as winter to spring itself until, without warning, buds are springing from the empty branches and snowdrops pushing through the slumberous earth. I loved her. I loved her like my own.' I empathised with both Elspeth and Mary, although I was constantly casting my mind back to the relationship between Nanny and her charge in 'Mrs England' by Stacey Halls, which was written so vividly that it's stayed bright in my mind. Overall, though, I think I took too long to read ‘The Whispering’, because I was too easily able to slip out of its story world. A ‘favourite’ novel will have me engaged even when I’m away from the book; I’ll remain with the characters as I’m at work, as I’m cooking the dinner, as I’m cleaning the bath, &cetera. For instance, recently reading ‘The Way Back’ by Gavriel Slavit, I was, in my mind, still in the underworld with the two children as I drove to work and as I was doing the dishes. All the time, I was thinking about the characters and what had just happened with them, and excited to know what would happen next. ‘The Whispering’ didn't have this effect. So, I would, perhaps, only recommend this book if you can manage to read it very quickly – maybe in one or two sittings. I think in that case, the pace should sustain itself. I believe ‘The Whispering’ has the potential to be a really absorbing book, if it’s read in this way; if the reader is able to surrender themselves to it totally for a short period of time. What I can say about this novel is that it gets better and better and better as it progresses. It started out as a read that I would have rated quite low on the scale, but climbed its way gradually upwards as it went along. At the end, I was looking back over the narrative and I understood why we had such a slow start. I did really enjoy reading it as things accelerated towards the end. A great debut, and I'll be looking forward to what Rebecca Netley produces next!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tripfiction

    Gothic mystery set on a remote Scottish island The year is 1860. Elspeth has suffered considerable personal loss and death, and alights upon the job of nanny to young Mary, who lives with her aunt on the fictional island of Skelthsea. Theirs is a dour house – Iskar – with melancholy oozing from the very fabric of the building, its faded grandeur and endless corridors and rooms adding a gloomy atmosphere to the story. Mary has lost both her mother and her twin brother, and therefore nanny and charg Gothic mystery set on a remote Scottish island The year is 1860. Elspeth has suffered considerable personal loss and death, and alights upon the job of nanny to young Mary, who lives with her aunt on the fictional island of Skelthsea. Theirs is a dour house – Iskar – with melancholy oozing from the very fabric of the building, its faded grandeur and endless corridors and rooms adding a gloomy atmosphere to the story. Mary has lost both her mother and her twin brother, and therefore nanny and charge already have death and grieving in common. However, Mary is unwilling or unable to speak and is clearly a troubled child. Elspeth however rises to the challenge and soon finds a connection and empathy to bind them. As Elspeth settles in, things begin to disconcert her. Things move and go missing, decorated stones appear – she disposes of them and then they reappear again – and the eerie atmosphere begins to get under her skin. Whistling sounds and ghostly rumblings all continue to unsettle her, as she builds the relationship with Mary. She observes the people around the house and beyond, many of whom seem to know more than they are prepared to divulge. Things are hinted at, secrets alluded to but not revealed; Elspeth is rattled by the ghostly goings-on. This is an incredibly atmospheric read and the author does a fantastic job of conjuring up the remote island, where the boat from the mainland only calls irregularly. The seas pound, the wind whistles and the skies form a leaden backdrop outside. Inside the house, the musty and oppressive atmosphere feathers around the characters as they move through their days. An excellent choice for anyone who liked Mexican Gothic and is looking for something suitable for the period around Halloween.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anschen Conradie

    #thewhistling – Rebecca Netley #michaeljoseph #penguinrandomhouse 1860. After suffering a personal tragedy, Elspeth Swansome leaves Edinburgh for the tiny, remote island Skelthsea, off the coast of Scotland where she is to assume the position of a nanny for a young girl, Mary. What she has not been told, however, is that her predecessor, Hettie, disappeared; that Mary’s twin brother, William, has died shortly thereafter and that Mary has been mute ever since. The huge, ancient home she is to live i #thewhistling – Rebecca Netley #michaeljoseph #penguinrandomhouse 1860. After suffering a personal tragedy, Elspeth Swansome leaves Edinburgh for the tiny, remote island Skelthsea, off the coast of Scotland where she is to assume the position of a nanny for a young girl, Mary. What she has not been told, however, is that her predecessor, Hettie, disappeared; that Mary’s twin brother, William, has died shortly thereafter and that Mary has been mute ever since. The huge, ancient home she is to live in, Iskar, also hides secrets. At night, when the only light is that of candles and peat fires are set against the cold, strange noises and events take place in the desolated corridors and, especially, in an area of the house that has been sealed off. As winter sets in and contact with the mainland becomes almost impossible, Elspeth is confronted with the island’s terrifying secrets; there are whispers of witches, binding spells, the summoning of the dead, the mysterious Fiaclach stone circle and the increasing feeling of someone or something emanating malice, fury and death. Disclaimer: the synopsis described my favourite genre; mysterious happenings in a gothic setting where the unease grows with each new page. The aforementioned fits this novel like a glove; it is the type of book that made me grateful for electricity (hallo there loadshedding!) and left me wondering if there is something under the bed, or outside the door………. Deliciously creepy. Both the style and language are those reminiscent of the horror master, Bram Stoker, and complements the period and setting of the novel. Unfortunately, this genre is known for disappointing conclusions, almost an anti-climax after the nail-biting tension. I was thus extatically happy to find that the closing of this novel did not disappoint in the least. I was glued to the pages until the very last sentence and then re-read the anonymous quote printed in the opening pages: ‘Stealthy as the winter frost, it found a rip upon the air. And slipped from death to walk the night but left no footstep there.’ The novel is a brilliant debut and is highly recommended for lovers of the genre. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ #uitdieperdsebek

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hanlie

    Yikes, what a brilliant read!! This book will definitely give you shivers down your spine and is not to be read late at night if you are a scaredy-cat. It is very atmospheric and the characterizations are so well done. All alone in the world and still reeling from the loss of her sister Elsbeth decides to take a job as a nanny on the island Skelthsea. Quite an adjustment from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh. Her job will be to look after a young girl called Mary. A girl who is also reeling fr Yikes, what a brilliant read!! This book will definitely give you shivers down your spine and is not to be read late at night if you are a scaredy-cat. It is very atmospheric and the characterizations are so well done. All alone in the world and still reeling from the loss of her sister Elsbeth decides to take a job as a nanny on the island Skelthsea. Quite an adjustment from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh. Her job will be to look after a young girl called Mary. A girl who is also reeling from the loss of her mother and twin brother and who is now mute. You can feel Elsbeth's despair and frustration. She is a good person who feels she let her sister down and she sees this job as some kind of redemption but at what cost? Will she have to sell her soul to the devil because all is not well at Iskar. Who can be trusted and what is up with the dark round pebbles wrapped in hair? Surely all the weird goings-on can be explained rationality...or can it... "Beyond the sounds of the island, another made itself heard: the faintest of whistles, like wind trapped in tiles or chimneys." Listen out for the 'widows' whistle. An instrument made in grief and blown to summon the dead........ This was 1 spooky tale that I devoured in 1 sitting! Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK Michael Joseph for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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