As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not….
The Murmurings is not the book most readers will be expecting. The cover and the blurb suggest and incredibly eerie, horror-filled read, but that really isn't how West's debut is. In fact, The Murmurings is largely a slower-paced contemporary on the nature of insanity, with a bit of horror and paranormal towards the end. Thankfully, I do not mind a slower pace, so long as the characters and writing are strong.
The best part of The Murmurings is the writing. West achieves a sort of distance in Sophie's narration that perfectly suits her mental state and desire to keep herself apart from everyone. Below that frosty surface, you also get a sense of how open Sophie probably used to be. Both the contemplative and faster-paced scenes during the climax scenes are well-handled.
The concept of the murmurings creeps me out for sure. Sophie's sister Nell was put into a mental institution because she heard voices and saw weird things in the mirror. Nell ended up escaping with one of the orderlies, but then is found dead in a nearby town, hanging upside down. Sophie has started hearing the murmurs too, and Dr. Keller of Oakside, the mental hospital, keeps calling to talk to Sophie's mom. West sets up a seriously creepy concept and makes you curious to find out what's going on at Oakside.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The mental hospital has a sort of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Vibe. The workers are all horribly creepy and rude, obviously uninterested in the rehabilitation of the patients. They give out drugs to make the patients pliable and run painful experiments. It's like only Nurse Ratched works at this place. Other than the fact that it seems to be really easy for patients to sneak out of their rooms, the mental hospital was sufficiently creepy and upsetting.
Sadly, I feel like the paranormal elements could have been a bit better-explained. I'm still not entirely certain what was going on, especially why victims ended up hanging upside down in impossible positions. Creepy? Most definitely. However, it leaves me with a lot of questions. Of course, I suppose all of it could be in Sophie's mind as she sits, drugged, in the mental hospital...
The Final Verdict:
If you're looking for a gruesome, terrifying, fast-paced read, you might want to look elsewhere, but, if you like atmospheric novels and can deal with a slower pace, I would recommend The Murmurings.
I applaud you Mrs. West. You managed to freak me out throughout the novel.
Since last year, I've been more and more interested in thrillers after so many paranormal novels disappointed me so I decided to shake things up and I'm glad I did because thrillers were just what I needed.
The night before I finished this book I was home alone and playing Left4Dead and lets just say, it wasn't pretty. All of the lights were on in my house and I was sitting in a corner listening to early Britney songs. This usually does the trick and I snap out of it but it wasn't helping because I started to think of all the creepy things that happened in this book and I back then I hadn't even read the first half of the book.
The creep factor was really high in this book. I did not expect it would go that far. There were two different parts in this novel. The first one was more contemporary with a dash of eerie mirror scenes with random whispering while the second was full on paranormal/horror story with the strange hair-raising black monsters that are actually something like split ghosts that are looking for their lost, other half in this world.
Also, the first half had romance which was ignored in the second part of the book. I didn't feel attached to the growing relationship of the characters because it happened to fast for my taste, especially considering that the main character, Sophie didn't have friends in school but she suddenly accepts the attention of Evan.
There was one thing I didn't like. The way out protagonist, Sophie never listened to anyone. There were a lot of situations where someone would say something like Don't go to that mental hospital or Don't go there alone or Obey the doctor, she wouldn't do it and her disobedience is what got her in big, colossal trouble every time. If she hadn't gone to the hospital in the middle of the night alone, none of the mess in the second half of the book wouldn't happen. But I guess, all of those things needed to happen in order to solve the whole mystery.
It might appear I said a lot of things that didn't set right but that's not entirely true because it's easier to talk about the bad side of the book rather that the good. All in all, I would recommend this book to my friends and everyone else since it had so many scary and unnerving scenes. It was definitely one of the best young-adult thrillers I've read.