I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep and the blame lies entirely with Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski’s Whispering Pines. Now, I don’t generally read or enjoy books that set my heart racing like this and leave me fearful of closing my eyes. I’m much more fond of sappy heart racing novels. But I have to say that, despite my sudden inability to turn my back to any sort of darkness or trees, this is probably the best ‘scare you ’til you shiver’ novel I have ever read.
I don’t think I’ve been this scared of a fictional creature since watching Stranger Things for the first time.
What Lovely Eyes You Have
I think the last time a book scared me this much was when “hello noses” became a phrase that haunted my nightmares. There’s an incredibly similar vibe to Whispering Pines, but instead of existing as a very brief moment among numerous other plot threads, this was basically the whole book. It’s almost as though Lang and Bartkowski zeroed in on the number one way to utterly terrify me. And then the purposefully bribed fate to send it my way.
Listen, I don’t like scary things. I don’t watch horror films and I avoid thriller. I don’t care for books with creepy vibes. And on the rare occasions when someone has managed to convince me to endure something of that nature, I hate nearly every second of it. And even if I don’t hate it all, it’s extremely unlikely that I will ever watch or read it a second time. There are precious few exceptions to this rule.
I’d probably read this one again.
Whispering Pines is impressive. It’s so both in how brilliantly the plot pulls you in and how terrifying it truly is. The book manages this feat in a matter of pages. I was impressed, engaged, and yes, terrified just a few pages in. Curious to learn what I’m talking about? All you have to do is read the prologue.
Ready or Not
This was probably the most engaging, fright-inducing book I have ever read. Usually when I read something with this level of scary, I have a tendency to put it down for long periods of time and slowly meander my way through it. The better to decrease the likelihood of my anxiety becoming a monster of its own. Oddly enough, I just couldn’t put Whispering Pines down.
There’s a bit of a hide and seek theme to this novel that I really enjoyed. There a multiple really fascinating mysteries and that bit about the eyes just gets you. I don’t know if I can speak with authority on the level of ease with which other readers will determine who the monster is, but for me it was incredibly easy. There are a few red herrings, of course, but they were also fairly obvious to me. I don’t personally think this took away from my ability to enjoy the book, though.
Ultimately, the plot was so intricate and well developed that you really can’t help falling for it. There are all these different threads that weave through each other, leaving you eager and determined to find out more. You’re able to develop a number of theories based on all these different plot strings and it’s equally as exciting to find out whether you’re right or not.
Here I Come
I would be remiss if I did not also point out the absolute brilliance of the characters within this story. I can’t think of a single main character that I wasn’t thoroughly impressed with. Many of the side characters, also, were pretty exceptional. You could easily tell that a lot of work went into their development and motivations.
Of course, above all else, I loved Caden. Not only was he just incredibly intriguing, but the dichotomy of the relationship between him and his brother, Aiden. That, without a doubt, was perhaps the best thing about this entire novel. Just the little intricacies of how they interacted with one another both in Caden’s memories and outside of them. I, for one, cannot wait to see what more comes of Aiden’s character.
Admittedly, while Rae was wonderful, I did not develop a strong attachment to her. I was, ironically, more attached to young Jasmine who was not even a huge part of the novel.
I Know You’re There
Finally, we come to the epilogue. Now, it’s very clear that they’re setting up for a sequel, which is fine. There’s a very Hawkin’s Lab type feel to it, which I imagine is why this book was compared to Stranger Things in the first place. And despite my better judgment, despite the fact that I found this book terrifying, I can’t wait to read it.
If you’re into getting spooked, I would highly recommend this one.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.