Ancient Whispers isn’t really a bad idea for a book. But the book is, unfortunately, a bad book. Riddled with uninteresting or irritating characters, amateurish writing, and a poorly explained and constructed plot, it’s simply not a book I can recommend – even though the initial premise sounded interesting.
Gabriel LaJeunesse was cruelly parted forever from his fiancee, Evangeline, when the British conquered Canada and relocated the Acadians to Louisiana. Shortly thereafter, he became immortal. He is in league with a group called the Priory of Callan, whose purpose is – well, I read the whole book and am still a bit hazy on that one. But from what I can tell, they all have magical powers of varying ability. Gabriel can turn lights on and off with a spell, change into an eagle, and set up force-fields of some kind. The priory appears to be run by Morag, a witch (of sorts).
Gabriel finds that his true love has been born again, as Lily – a nurse in Rhode Island. Lily is on the way to visit some friends. She runs into Gabriel at a gas station, and then continues on her way, only to get lost in the woods. She is driven straight into Gabriel’s arms. Morag puts a spell on them both, so they make wild, crazy love. Gabriel knows that they are being supernaturally manipulated, but Lily has no idea.
The ins and outs of the plot are pretty vague, but after spending a better part of a (long) month with this book I can give you the gist of it:
- Gabriel and Lily are soul mates. They must have sex and become formally bonded, because otherwise Gabriel’s soul will belong to the bad guy (whose name I have forgotten and am too lazy to look up).
- Lily feels that Gabriel is a little foggy on who she actually is. He often calls her Evangeline, and expects her to just get used to it. This annoys her.
- Everyone is surrounded by danger, because Theuron, another bad guy, is out to get them all.
- Gabriel is worried about this, but not worried enough to really keep a good eye on Lily. Or Evangeline. Or whoever the hell she is. He frequently leaves right when she might be in danger, mostly because the author keeps throwing unbelievable plot devices in his direction – just to ensure that he’ll be out of the way.
- Lily trains with Morag to become a witch, and tries to save her friend from becoming Theuron’s sex slave.
- There is a grand confrontation, Theuron is temporarily defeated (until the next book, which I assure you I will not be reading), and Gabriel and Lily are united in what is supposed to be a touching “mating ritual” involving a deer skin, some candles, and an altar. And loud shrieks of laughter from my end (I am sure the other patrons in the Barnes & Noble Cafe wondered what was so hilarious).
I genuinely liked the idea of the book, which is why I picked it up in the first place. I am not adverse to soul-mates, and really fancied the idea of an Acadian hero. Unfortunately, the highly interesting historical backdrop is gone after the first chapter, leaving us with the much less intriguing modern Gabriel. Modern Gabriel mostly skulks around, telling Lily/Evangeline how hot she is and how they are meant to be together. Then (as previously mentioned) he conveniently disappears on some errand whenever Theuron threatens Lily. He also enjoys calling Lily “Baby” – a lot. Every time he said it, I wanted to punch him in the face. Admittedly, this is a personal thing. Some people find “Baby” endearing, but it just sounds sexist to me, especially when it’s employed constantly.
The fact that the book just isn’t put together well doesn’t help matters. It’s not uncommon, particularly with debut books, but transitions are choppy and time doesn’t flow well. Experienced authors tend to be so good at pacing and transitions that you just take them for granted and forget it’s a skill. Until you read a book like this. The problems bleed into the world building, which is vague at best. One gets the impression that the author worked it all out in her head, but didn’t do the best job of communicating it to her readers.
The bottom line is that Ancient Whispers reads like a first draft. Though it has the glimmer of a good idea, the actual execution is lacking and the characters are completely uninteresting. This is one to skip.