Whisper Hollow, Book #1
By Yasmine Galenorn
Author’s website: http://www.galenorn.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Fifteen years ago, I ran away from Whisper Hollow, Washington, a small town on Crescent Lake in the Olympic Peninsula. But truth is, if you were born here, you can never really leave. I’m Kerris Fellwater, and when I returned, I inherited my grandmother’s house—and her gift. As a spirit shaman, it’s my responsibility to drive the dead back to their graves, because around Whisper Hollow, people—and secrets—don’t always stay buried.
When I was little, I was told my mother ran off. But now it looks like she was murdered. With the help of my mysterious neighbor Bryan, we begin to unravel the mystery of her disappearance, and in doing so, unearth a dark force seeking to bury Whisper Hollow. Now I must work with the dead, rather than against them, because our enemy will do whatever she can to destroy the town, and she means to start with me.
Whisper Hollow is much more than the sleepy small town that it appears to be. Creatures run in the woods, shadows lurk in dark corners, and the dead walk here. Kerris Fellwater returns home when summoned by the Crow Man upon her grandparent’s deaths at the hands of the Lady of the Lake to fulfill her responsibility as spirit shaman. She is a descendant, through her maternal line, of The Morrigan – Nightmare Queen, Queen of the Shapeshifters, Mother of all Fae. As such, she is charged with keeping the dead at rest on the other side of the Veil. Unfortunately, Kerris left home at seventeen before she could learn all she needed to from her grandmother Lila, driven away by her hateful grandfather Duvall.
As Kerris settles into her childhood home, she quickly realizes that something dark and nefarious is at work in town and that there is more to her mother’s alleged disappearance when Kerris was only three years old than she believed. In her role as spirit shaman, she should work with a lament singer Ellia, who also partnered with Lila and can guide Kerris, and a shapeshifter, who will act as her guardian and protector. When she meets her next door neighbor Brian Tierney, she feels an instant connection and strong attraction…he is her destined shapeshifter. The trio, along with Kerris’s best friend Peggin, grandparents she never knew she had, and the secret Crescent Moon Society, tries to keep the dead in check and resolve what happened to her mother, and father, so many years ago.
In Autumn Thorns, Yasmine Galenorn has created a dark, mysterious world full of things that go bump in the night. Interesting characters and back stories, along with complex lore, combine to make an entertaining alternate world. Whisper Hollow is a character in itself, almost a living entity full of gothic atmosphere. Everything from the surrounding thick woods to the chilling cemetery to the Lady of the Lake who claims residents at any time at her whim, the book is deliciously creepy, especially after night falls.
The mythology is well crafted and interesting. The concept of the spirit shaman is intriguing; Kerris utilizes part innate ability and part magic spells. The explanation of the six types of the dead was inventive, and Penelope was an intimidating gate keeper to the other side. I definitely considered sleeping with a light on after reading the scenes with the Shadow Man.
The supporting characters are well developed but with plenty of room to grow. Kerris is no-nonsense, which I liked, but she is also impatient to the point of rudeness when others explain things to her. As expected, Brian is my favorite character. He is sufficiently mysterious and protective, both in his human and wolf forms. Their budding sexual and emotional relationship is a big part of the book. Even so, I felt their intimacy was forced and too quick to materialize. I am confident that I am in the minority in this opinion. A word of caution to those that are unfamiliar with Galenorn’s writing…the sex scenes are graphic and explicit. This bluntness is not really my style.
While the world building is fantastic and imaginative, I think the mystery itself was a little weak, almost an afterthought. This book comes across as a big introduction to this new world. Once you become acquainted with it all, future books have the potential to be outrageously entertaining.
If Autumn Thorns is an indication of the quality The Whisper Hollow series will bring, it will likely be one hell of an urban fantasy ride. Recommended to fans of the genre and those who do not mind explicit content.