The Castle of Whispers by Carole Martinez

In 1187, on the day of her wedding, the beautiful 15-year-old Esclarmonde scandalizes the court when she refuses to accept the knight chosen by her father, the lord of the domain of Whispers. She defies her father’s wishes and vows to give herself to God, for which he imprisons her in a cell adjoining the castle’s chapel. Instead of the peaceful solitude she sought, Esclarmonde finds in her cell the crossroads between the living and the dead. Walled in, with nothing but a single barred window to connect her to the outside world, Esclarmonde nevertheless exerts a mysterious and pervasive power over the kingdom. The virgin sorceress reaches a saint-like status, and men and women journey from far and wide to hear her speak. Esclarmonde even persuades her father to wage war in the Holy Land, resulting in a massacre of staggering proportions.

I read The Castle of Whispers for my Book Club as one of the other members had been recommended it and it sounded vaguely interesting.

And it is vaguely interesting. It's also pretty well written. And that's about it. It's not a book that managed to captivate any of us, but neither did we feel anything negative towards it. It's simply there.

Esclarmonde (a name that still breaks my tongue) is a blank slate of a character whom neither manages to intrigue me with her doings (15 year old and chooses to lock herself up for the rest of her life rather than marry her chosen husband) nor does she annoy me enough to stop reading.

The religious aspect and the supernatural touch though, did bore me. The way she somehow manages to keep track of her father's whereabouts in the Holy War etc threw the book for me as so far it had all been very plausible and realistic - something that could very likely have happened in those days playing on the superstitions of the people. However when there then was "magic" of sorts involved it just kind of ruined it.

All in all, it's not a bad book, but it's not really something I'll be able to remember I read down the line.

The Castle of Whispers
by Carole Martinez
ISBN13: 9788791450945
198 pages / published in 2014

Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2014


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