Today is my stop on the blog tour hosted by The Write Reads for The Whistlers in the Dark by Victoria Williamson! Thank you to The Write Reads for organizing this tour and for the author and publisher for sending me a digital copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Scotland, 158 AD, is a divided country.
On one side of the Antonine Wall, thirteen-year-old Felix is trying to become a good Roman soldier like his father. On the other, twelve-year old Jinny is vowing revenge on the ‘metal men’ who have invaded her Damnonii tribe’s homeland. At the Damnonii’s sacred circle of standing stones, her planned attack on Felix goes badly wrong, awakening a legend that threatens to bring fire and destruction down on them all.
Can Jinny and Felix overcome their differences and soothe the stones back to sleep before it’s too late?
This was such a fun middle-grade adventure! It was full of history, legends, friendship, and great characters.
This book takes place during the Roman times in Scotland in the second century. This is a time period that I know very little about and I enjoyed learning something new while reading. I also really loved that I was able to dive into this book and not feel lost or confused because I didn’t know the backstory of the time period.
I loved the legends in this book and I loved how they were used to add a small fantastical element to the story. I enjoyed the descriptions of the circle of standing stones and I thought it really brought them to life. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything, but the main characters’ fear was radiating off of the page.
Speaking of the characters, I liked them. Jinny, her younger brother Bram, and Felix, the Roman boy, are all wanting to belong and fit in. They’re all going through struggles that are explained in a way that a middle-grade audience can understand. They’re brave, they’re a bit headstrong, and they learn a lot along the way. I also loved how the friendship between Jinny and Felix developed and how they were able to put aside their differences.
I was also a fan of the action scenes in this book. I thought the descriptions made the scenes leap off of the page, which made them extra enjoyable to read.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked the vivid descriptions and learning something new.
Victoria Williamson is an award-winning author who grew up in Scotland surrounded by hills, books, and an historical farm estate which inspired many of her early adventure stories and spooky tales. After studying Physics at the University of Glasgow, she set out on her own real-life adventures, which included teaching maths and science in Cameroon, training teachers in Malawi, teaching English in China and working with children with additional support needs in the UK. Victoria currently works part time writing KS2 books for the education company Twinkl and spends the rest of her time writing novels, and visiting schools, libraries and literary festivals to give author talks and run creative writing workshops.
Victoria’s previous novels include The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, The Boy with the Butterfly Mind, Hag Storm, and War of the Wind. She has won the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award 2020/2021, The YA-aldi Glasgow Secondary School Libraries Book Award 2023, and has been shortlisted for the Week Junior Book Awards 2023, The Leeds Book Awards 2023, the Red Book Award 2023, the James Reckitt Hull Book Awards 2021, The Trinity School Book Awards 2021, and longlisted for the ABA South Coast Book Awards 2023, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020, and the Branford Boase Award 2019.
Her latest novel, The Pawnshop of Stolen Dreams, is a middle grade fantasy inspired by classic folklore. Twenty percent of the author royalties for this book are donated to CharChar Literacy, an organisation working to improve children’s literacy levels in Malawi.
You can find out more about Victoria’s books, school visits and free resources for schools on her website: www.strangelymagical.com