Whispers in the Sand by Barbara Erskine
Publication Date: July 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 496pp
(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Barbara Erskine on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter
Recently divorced, Anna Coburn decides to cheer herself up by retracing a journey her great-grandmother, Louisa, a renowned artist, made in the mid-nineteenth century – a Nile cruise from Luxor to the Valley of the Kings. Anna carries with her two of Louisa's possessions – an ancient Egyptian scent bottle, and an illustrated diary of the original cruise that has lain unread for a hundred years.
As she follows in Louisa's footsteps, Anna discovers in the diary a wonderful love story from the Victorian past, and the chilling, more distant secret of the little glass bottle. Meanwhile, two men from the tour party are showing a disturbing interest in these mementos, and developing an unfriendly rivalry for Anna's attention. And, most frightening of all, Anna finds herself the victim of a haunting, a spectral presence that grows in strength and threat as the dramatic stories from three different eras intertwine in a terrifying climax...
Barbara Erskine fans will be up late reading her book, Whispers in the Sand, a time slip novel with a supernatural bent. Erskine gives readers a lot to take in with this book, everything from romance, betrayal and love to Egyptian deities, haunted scent bottles and more twists and turns that you'd find in a mainstream mystery. Erskine has a knack for writing books that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and she doesn't disappoint with this one. Full of romantic suspense and historical references and set against the lavish background of the Nile, this is not a book you'll want to miss!
Anna Fox is a recently divorced woman who needs a change in her life. She needs to forget the controlling ways of her ex-husband and set off an adventure of her own. From childhood she has always been interested in her great-grandmother, Louisa and her fateful trip down the Nile river in Egypt in the late 1800's. Anna decides to retrace Louisa's journey in an attempt to reconnect with her dreams and what she wants out of life. Taking with her, her great-grandmothers diary and the scent bottle given to her on her journey, Anna finds herself in the midst of a haunting tale that threatens her life. As she begins to read the diary and finds out more about Louisa, the story of the glass scent bottle begins to come out and three different era's start to blend as the stories of the two women become intertwined, filling Anna with a sense of mystery and eerie feeling that things are not quite what they seem.
Barbara Erskine brings readers a tale of love and betrayal in her novel, Whispers in the Sand. Erskine's ability to bring the lush setting of Egypt to life in this book sets it apart from the pack. Her descriptions of the Egypt, it's gods and it's people will transport readers back to the time of Louisa's journey in the late 1800's and also the ancient Egyptian past, where two priests fight and die for what they believe. I loved the way the author was able to give the reader a sense of how the scent bottle was imbued with their spirits and how their evil began to leak back into the present world. It gave the book an almost eerie feeling, that readers will pick up on automatically. It might be story about love and suspense, but it also carries a darker magical element that many readers will love.
I thought the author did an amazing job of showing the changes that Anna goes through in this book. In the beginning we see her as kind of mousy, timid, shy and not very confident. After having lived with a controlling husband that is not unexpected, but Anna really comes into her own on this journey. By the time the story begins to wrap up readers will see Anna gain confidence in herself and in her decisions. At first she seems destined to make the same mistakes as she is drawn to the same kind of men that her ex-husband was, controlling, never allowing her to have a thought of her own, but as the story continues she steers clear of that kind of man and finds what she is really looking for, kindness, thoughtfulness, someone who can let her be herself without trying to stifle her. In the end after fighting ghosts and people bent on destroying her, Anna becomes the woman she was meant to be, confident and intelligent, someone who knows her own mind and what she wants out of life. Erskine developed her in painstaking way that lets readers identify with her and start to root for her to change her life.
Some of the supporting characters were a bit annoying and it seemed a little hard to believe that Anna would put up with their behavior, but if a person takes into account the kind of character that Erskine was developing, I think it made perfect sense. Andy is one of the men that becomes interested in Anna, but he is by no means Mr. Perfect. He tends to annoy the reader with his idea's that women are incapable of doing things for themselves and it got on my nerves a bit that he felt he had to "protect" Anna's possessions. He is a replica of her former husband. But there generally has to be a character like that to give readers the conflict they need in the story. Andy certainly did that for me.
The supernatural element of the book was well written and though there were many sub-plots and more twists and turns than I could have thought possible, the book is very entertaining and gives readers who enjoy the paranormal enough to keep them on the edge of their seats. The ghostly priests appeared and disappeared with regularity in the book, and I had a little trouble understanding what brought them in and out of the present at any particular moment. There didn't seem to be a pattern or a need for them to appear at times. I thought the whole theme of Egypt and the Egyptian gods was very interesting and I felt that the author did a really good job of presenting the historical aspects of the book. I liked it a lot!
I recommend this one to readers who love historical fiction as well as time slip novels. The blending of the time periods seems effortless and authentic. I think paranormal and supernatural enthusiasts will love it as well. It's bit lengthy at almost 500 pages, but definitely worth the effort. This is my first time reading Erskine, but it won't be my last!
Whispers in the Sand is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Barbara Erskine is the author of the internationally bestselling novel Lady of Hay, which has sold over a million copies worldwide. This was followed by another bestseller, Kingdom of Shadows, and a collection of short stories, Encounters. Her other books include Child of the Phoenix, Midnight is a Lonely Place and House of Echoes. Her novels have been translated into twenty-three languages.