Hi friends! I received an ARC of this book from Quirk Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. If you’re reading this, it means this book has already been published and you can check it out now if you’re interested! Although I received this book for free, all thoughts and feedback are my own.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
Whisper Down the Lane is the latest horror novel by author Clay McLeod Chapman, told in two points of view. Sean is a five-year-old boy who has just moved to a Greenfield, Virginia. When his mother receives a letter from his school saying Sean’s favorite teacher is under investigation, a small white lie he tells takes the town and nation by storm in a Satanic Panic inspired story. Richard is an art teacher in Danvers, Virginia, focused on his new marriage to Tamara and the chance to be a father to her son, Elijah. But when a gored rabbit shows up on the school grounds with a birthday card for Richard, elements of his past start to resurface…
I had a good time with this book. I enjoy horror inspired by historical events/plausible horror so the premise of this novel was intriguing to me. Although I thought the twist was pretty predictable, the atmosphere and realistic nature of the events that take place are deeply unsettling. This book wasn’t a standout or super memorable for me, and I didn’t love the ending, but overall I had a good time.
I liked this book because the way in which it was scary is different than a lot of other novels I’ve read recently. Whisper Down the Lane is inspired by the McMartin preschool trials and the Satanic Panic of the 80s, so the horror feels especially real and plausible. As I mentioned above, psychological and atmospheric horror is my favorite subgenre and this one fit into those descriptions nicely.
One of the horror tropes I love the most is the protagonist/narrator who begins to question their sanity and reliability; that was an aspect of this book that I greatly enjoyed. I thought it was set up and played out well, although there are so many potential outcomes with the nature of this trope that I wish the author had gone in a different direction with the ending.
The ending of this book also kind of sucked. One of my least favorite horror/thriller tropes is ‘someone from the protagonist’s past coming back to get revenge’. It seriously happens so often and I absolutely can’t stand it; I think it’s boring and done to death and the reveal is never as exciting or twisty as it could have been. That’s exactly what happens here and it feels pretty contrived. It was also pretty predictable, and normally it wouldn’t ruin the experience for me, but this book is somewhat of a mystery, and being able to discern the ending early on was disappointing.
The other negative that I won’t get too into because it doesn’t need much explanation is that this book is pretty standard and forgettable. This book was a fun time while I was reading it, but I don’t think I’ll have many thoughts about it six months from now. Hell, I don’t have many thoughts as I’m writing this now.
Rating & Final Thoughts
Whisper Down the Lane gets 3.5 out of 5 stars from me. This is a pretty standard horror that’s based in some interesting history. While its atmospheric and slow burn horror make for a fun read, it’s altogether forgettable and the ending left much to be desired. If you’re really into horror like me, though, I’d take a look at this one. If you like the synopsis, you’ll probably like the book.
Buy Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman here.