The sun rose behind Sleeping Rock and, as its rays crested the summit, long shafts of light speared into the savannah: pink, orange, brilliant white. The earth woke, insects buzzed into the air and the acacia trees shifted in the breeze.
Nara stood at the front of the house, her pack, bow and arrows beside her and her water skin hitched to her belt. She would miss this sight. Sleeping Rock would always mean home to her, no matter how glad she was to be leaving.
She could hear her father in the kitchen, cleaning up after breakfast. Her mother was tending to the cows, milking them in her quick, orderly way; and Nara’s sister, Kali, was busy cleaning out the chicken sheds and collecting eggs to sell at the next market.
All this hard work going on around her felt like a reproach.
Nara was a Whisperer, not a farmer. She had been chosen on the day she was born, when a single white feather landed at the door of her parents’ home…
Published by Stripes in 2015 ( read via NetGalley)
Illustrated by Chellie Carroll
224 pages in paperback with illustrations
Summary from series website
Nara’s life is turned upside down when she receives a summons from the Palace Whisperer, Dawn. The shape-shifting Narlaw are back and it’s up to the Whisperers to protect the kingdom of Meridina. But the journey from Nara’s remote savannah home will not be easy. Can she and Flame, her leopard companion, reach the palace safely? They’ll need all their skills to survive…
This is the sequel to Whisper of Wolves in The Guardians of the Wild Series – reviewed here. I would advise reading that tale first if you haven’t already. It will make some of the characters easier to understand.
Here we see the same companion animal idea – but this time Nara has Flame the Leopard on her side. The matching of animal, culture and setting is well-done: who wouldn’t enjoy such a creature from a South African-like realm as part of the adventure? There are plenty of precise details which make this fantasy world both credible and inclusive. You immediately get a feel for that from the striking cover by Chellie Carroll.
One of the strong points of the first story was a range of interesting and varied female characters – Kris Humphrey has carried on in fine style. There’s plenty of drama too – with wild animals, demons, and conflicts between tribes and families.
It’s quite short and easy to read - suitable for relatively new independent readers. It’s only fair to point out that it neds on something of a cliff hanger – but the next is already out: Gathering Voices.
I would recommend this for fans of Abi Elphinstone who might enjoy a shorter book with a similar mix of magic, animals and fast-paced adventure.
K. M. Lockwood lives by the sea in Sussex - see the pics on Instagram. She fills jars with sea-glass, writes on a very old desk and reads way past her bedtime. Her tiny bed and breakfast is stuffed full of books - and even the breakfasts are named after writers. You'd be welcome to chat stories with @lockwoodwriter on Twitter