The Thickety: The Whispering Trees by J.A. White, illustrated by Andrea Offermann
Katherine Tegen Books, 2015
Available: Hardcover, Kindle edition
After the shocking conclusion of A Path Begins, the first book in The Thickety series, Kara Westfall has been forced to leave her village of De’Noran behind and flee with her brother into the darkness of the Thickety,
Although still full of dark events and violent situations, The Whispering Trees contains each of these elements on a lighter scale than the first book in the series. Readers are introduced to a world full of magical, fairytale-like creatures living in the Thickety, and Kara’s ability to connect with animals gives us a glimpse into the minds of the Thickety’s inhabitants, blighted by the dark magic of the Forest Demon Sordyr.
The encompassing theme of good vs. evil, and strength of character development, is still strong in The Whispering Trees. Kara and her brother Taff form an unlikely alliance with the witch Mary Kettle, introduced in A Path Begins as a murderer of children. The Whispering Trees is full of suspenseful situations and unpredictable turns of events as Kara learns that goodness and hope can prevail.
The Whispering Trees shows readers a growth in Kara’s understanding of her powers, and her discovery of the responsibility that comes with such power, She is forced to make difficult decisions that weigh her deep desire to protect and free the creatures of the Thickety against her need to occasionally put them in harm’s way, for the greater good of defeating Sordyr. Readers will also see growth in young Taff as he develops wisdom, and a keen ability to become a strong force in the challenges he and Kara face in the Thickety.
The illustrations of Andrea Offermann are again a perfect complement to the tone of the story. The cover pulls readers into the dark, ensnaring branches of the Thickety and the chapter illustrations provide a perfect visual introduction to the tone of each chapter.
While The Whispering Trees contains less human violence than the first book in the series, it still contains enough frightening imagery and violent events that younger readers should be cautioned. However, those who are looking for a YA series that doesn’t sugarcoat the darker side of a fantastic and wonderfully-told scary story won’t be disappointed. Recommended for ages 10 and older.
Contains: Violence, witchcraft
Reviewed by Heather Hurley