The Whispering Wars

Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Oct. 2019. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338255874.
Gr 4-7–The town of Spindrift—indeed, the whole Kingdom of Gusts, Gales, Squalls, and Violent Storms—is caught up in a magical war, which includes disappearing children and a terrible flu epidemic, and it’s up to an uneasy alliance of children to save the day. The wealthy and privileged Brathelthwaite Boarding School students, led by kind-hearted Honey Bee, and the poor and plucky Orphanage School students, led by fiercely loyal and protective Finley, initially clash but ultimately work together to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it. They are aided by two children from the future (fans will be overjoyed to reconnect with Bronte and Alejandro from The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone), who are attempting to change the past and figure out the mystery of Alejandro’s parents. By the extremely satisfying end, many mysteries are solved. Told in turns by Honey Bee and Finlay, with help from one or two others, this companion novel stands alone nicely, though newcomers will clamor for book one. The girls in the story have the edge–Honey Bee turns out to have amazing magical gifts, shy Glim bonds with wild dragons and saves the kidnapped children, and most of the adults in positions of authority are women. There are instances of violence, kidnapping, mind-control, segregation and internment of minorities, and a suggestion of physical abuse of children.
VERDICT Fans of Diana Wynne Jones will find much to like in this fast-paced, emotion-packed blend of adventure, comedy, and fantasy, which includes more than a little food for thought.

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