We gave it a B
Whispers from the Dead is the kind of psychological thriller that appeals to teenagers who are going through emotional thrills and chills of their own.
Sarah Darnell, 16, is haunted by an invisible presence after she recovers from a swimming accident. Apparently, her brush with death left her with a special sensitivity to ”whispers from the other side.”
When her family moves to Houston, Sarah is plagued by visions of a hushed-up recent murder that took place in her new suburban house.
Horrifying visions of the murder scene alternate in Sarah’s mind with urgent pleas for help. Sarah’s courage and compassion are stirred.
When Nixon writes about Sarah’s relationships with her parents or with her dangerous but seductive new boyfriend, the prose is pedestrian. There’s none of the rollicking ease and spunky humor that distinguish Nixon’s picture books for younger readers, Fat Chance, Claude, and Beats Me, Claude.
But whenever Rosa, the murdered girl, makes contact with Sarah, the writing turns electric. The recurring episodes of Rosa’s ghostly presence in the house are eerie and heartbreaking.
Young readers will be gratified by the resourcefulness Sarah shows as she solves the murder mystery, helps to capture the killer, and regains her emotional stability after her visions cease. But when Rosa’s troubled spirit is at last allowed to rest, it’s hard not to regret the loss of Sarah’s vivid and tender communication with her. B