Author: Carly Anne West
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Released: 5th March 2013
Rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Murmurings is a book that, as soon as you so much as glance at it, promises good things. It puts into your mind images of yourself biting your nails, gripping the book/Kindle with white fingers, torn between wanting to turn away because of how creepy it is and that innate need to keep on reading. While it didn't entirely live up to that impression, this was a decent read nevertheless.
Sophie is haunted after the death of her sister, Nell. Everyone assumes that she committed suicide, unable to bear the supposed voices that she can hear but no-one else can't. Except Sophie. At first she tries to ignore it, even begins to think that she's going crazy. But soon she learns that the doctors at the mental facility Nell was staying at aren't ordinary doctors, and that there's a reason for why she can hear these voices. Why she can see shadows and distortions in the mirror. And the more she finds out, the more her own life is in danger.
The novel gets off to a good start, immersing you immediately in Sophie's world. I found myself intrigued as to what these murmurings were and how both Nell and Sophie were able to hear them. I'd seen references to Seers and Takers in other reviews, so naturally this made me even more curious. The term 'Seer' was pretty self-explanatory, but 'Taker'? I read eagerly, wanting to have my questions answered. And when I did get them, I was, for the most part, satisfied. Of course I was also waiting to be creeped out, and this was one of the big things that disappointed me. The more sinister scenes come in the second half of the book, and naturally while reading them I was questioning myself for wanting to read a creepy book so badly. But those scenes didn't last very long, and soon I'd be back to feeling slightly disconnected from the writing. At the same time, though, a mental hospital does feature quite heavily in the book, and I always feel slightly uncomfortable reading about them. They're eerie places, and let me tell you, doctors can be very scary people. I'd hate to be on the wrong side of one.
Because of that, and because of the fact that she misses her sister and also has to deal with these freaky whispers in her ear, and because of the other fact that her mother is essentially useless and her aunt focused only on her mother, I did feel sorry for Sophie. She has a lot to deal with, and The Murmurings is another example of how harming people can be. It especially frustrated me that her mother and Aunt Becca made exactly the same mistake as with Nell, apparently having learned nothing. Having said that, however, I wasn't able to entirely connect with Sophie. You'd think that knowing her ability to hear the murmurings, something that no-one else knows, would go a long way towards letting you get to really know her. But I found myself wishing to know more about her, to see layers to her. I wanted her to be a more thoughtful character rather than simply pushing boundaries beyond their limit when she knew that doing so would only end badly. My inability to connect extended to the romance as well. This was perhaps the thing that irked me most. Evan made a couple of appearances and suddenly he's all Sophie can think about. She gets nervous when she's near him. Why does she like him? Why does he like her? More questions, no answers. It ended slightly better than it started, but I still wasn't convinced.
Despite the negativity that seems to have come through here, The Murmurings was actually a good read. Granted, I would have loved a bigger dose of creepiness and the chance to really connect to what I was reading, but there was some feeling drawn from me. The concept behind the book is certainly different, and I'd recommend you read this at least for that that alone. Regardless of all the issues, it's definitely worth sticking with.
I step towards the second set of doors, wondering if maybe they're on their own automatic sensor. But nothing happens. I tense with the memory of the thing I saw in this reflection when I came to retrieve Nell's box of things.
'Hello!' I yell to the window, eager to get in and out as soon as possible.
My plan is loose, but I've told myself it's enough. I just need to say that I want to see Kenny, tell him I'm sorry for upsetting him last time. After the way he clocked me, they're probably so afraid of getting sued that I'll get a couple minutes with him.
I just need to ask him about Deb. I need to know if she's really here. If I can confirm that she's not in any immediate danger, then I'll wait until Evan gets back from all-star camp, and we can figure out what to do together. He'll be pissed, but when he finds out Deb's here, I know he'll understand why I had to do it. But first I have to get those minutes alone with Kenny - asking him about Deb is another story.
'Hey, can someone let me in? Hey!'
Still nothing. The glass contains the volume of my voice, as if I'm a bug trapped in a jar. 'Is anybody th-?'
Before I can finish, the doors part.
I glance back at the admitting window. It's as empty as it was before.
I brush a chill from my arm and tell myself that the door must be on some sort of sensor in the evening. Probably some sort of budget cut to keep from having to pay an orderly to sit there during non-visiting hours.
But when I step into the lobby, I'm alone. From the reception desk to the recreation room where I'd had my incomprehensible conversation with Kenny, it is empty and still. I take a couple of tentative steps towards the reception counter, half expecting some cranky, white-smocked orderly to pop up from behind the desk jack-in-the-box style. But as I stand on my toes to peer over the desk's ledge, I see nothing but boxes of Xerox paper and piles of dusty manila files, each marked with a patient number.
I look behind me again. A single tower of Legos sits in the middle of the rec room table. It is made entirely of green blocks. All I'd wanted was some private time to talk with Kenny. But I hadn't counted on this silence. It doesn't seem right. Everything seems off.
'Hel...hello?' I say in a tone hovering just above a whisper. Pathetic. I try again.
'I need to talk to someone,' I say in a voice I hope is more assertive than how I feel. But the way it trembles from my lips tells me I came up short.
All of a sudden, getting answers out of Kenny is the last thing I want.
The urge to get out of here is palpable. I've felt afraid before, and I've known when it's my own chicken-shit attitude that's trying to get me to run. But this is different. Almost primal.
I glance once more towards the recreation area before deciding to leave. I'll just have to find out if Deb is MM some other way.
I step towards the doors and wait for them to open the way they did for my entry, but they stay sealed like two tightly pressed lips, refusing to let me out. I duck around the corner. I say as I go to push the red button, 'I'll let myself out.'
Something sharp pinches the back of my thigh. I stop dead.