March 26, 2015

Whisper the Dead: The Lovegrove Legacy, Book #2

by Alyxandra Harvey
Bloomsbury
978-0-802737502 
408 pp.
Ages 12-18
2014

The dead do indeed whisper. And although not all the Lovegrove cousins can hear them, ghosts and spirits and even those in the Underworld seem to have a lot to say. Seems attention must be paid, for everyone's sake.


In A Breath of Frost, Book 1 in the Lovegrove Legacy, the Lovegrove cousins–Emma Day, Gretchen Thorn and Penelope Chadwick–learned of their supernatural powers and heritage and began attending  the Rowanstone Academy, ultimately helping to thwart the evil Greymalkin Sisters.


Now the Keepers of the Order of the Iron Nail (a.k.a. the Greybeards) are diligent about securing the wards around London to keep it safe from open or leaking portals such as the ones that allowed the Greymalkin Sisters to return.  Gretchen's twin brother, Godric, who is overwhelmed by his ability to see spirits, must help the Keepers such as Emma's love interest Cormac and his partner Tobias Lawless in their task, though it is Gretchen, loathe to limit herself to learnings appropriate for young ladies, who truly wants to help in this endeavour.  In this capacity, Godric becomes acquainted with the unschooled witch and Madcap, Moira, whom he begins to court rather discretely.  However, Gretchen's mother insists that her daughter choose a suitor promptly though Gretchen is too busy developing her gift of hearing whisperings of the dead and curiously examining her feelings for Tobias who has been assigned to watch over her. (Seems the Order is "cautious" about the Lovegrove cousins and their extraordinary magic and is determined to watch their every move.)


While Gretchen is learning to harness the insistent voices buzzing in her head, Emma is trying to open a portal to connect with her father in the underworld and to fix the spell she'd used to harness the Greymalkin sisters.  Fortunately for her, Cormac is by her side all the way.  Penelope, on the other hand, is balancing the attentions of Lord Lucius Beauregard while her childhood friend Cedric, the grandson of the family coachman, remains vigilant about protecting her, though a Keeper has been assigned to her.


While most young women are striving to secure a suitable marriage match, the Lovegrove cousins have greater issues with which to deal and they do it with such style.  And though they are all working to develop their magic and help keep London safe, even if they are ladies, Whisper the Dead is definitely Gretchen's story, just as A Breath of Frost was Emma's.  Gretchen is the gutsy girl who lets nothing stop her from pursuing her interests:  not her clothing, not her mother, not society, not etiquette.  Like her familiar, a wolfhound, Gretchen is fierce, fearless and dangerous, and her dear twin Godric is her champion, albeit a quiet one.  She will fight with daggers, climb houses, break the rules, speak her mind, and listen to her heart.  She is the sister, cousin and friend they all need in their corners.  So, it's especially satisfying for her to find a love in Tobias Lawless, a very proper young man who needs Gretchen to help him release his unreserved self and accept his inner (!) wolf.


Alyxandra Harvey is one of those authors whose stories are so multi-faceted and -layered that it is virtually impossible to provide a succinct yet comprehensive synopsis.  I haven't been able to do so for her Drake Chronicles or these Lovegrove Legacy stories. The weakness is in my retelling.  The stories are so rich and complicated, encompassing different levels of society in Victorian England and in the supernatural world, each with their own characters, protocols and flavours, and their own villains, heroes and common folk.  But Alyxandra Harvey integrates them all superbly in Whisper the Dead into a story abounding with intrigue, secrets, magic and romance, written in a voice uniquely her own.  Readers will find themselves holding their breath throughout the story, anticipating the worst, hoping for the sweetest, and always satisfied that the story has unraveled as it should.  As such, we are drawn further into our own relationships with the cousins as Whisper the Dead reveals more about the legacy that is the Lovegrove family, leaving us again expectant of further angst, conspiracy, and love that is sure to come.

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