At least, that’s how it appears to the townsfolk of Dainsfield.
Over a period of several years, three of her closest friends have died in tragic accidents, and a religious group known as the Pure Apostles (or The Whisperers, as Black and her family call them) think that Black is to blame. Led by the ominous but powerful Father Ratchet, the group (most of whom attend secretly and are unknown to the public as members) are convinced that Black is possessed by a demonic spirit, and that she is the cause of the teenagers’ untimely demises. Although she was nowhere near them at the times of their deaths, her reputation has been tarnished forever by the rumours of black magic that have since been spread. Ged, a former friend, is the worst of The Whisperers, and Black can’t wait until the day she finishes school and can leave the town (and its haunting memories) behind forever. Until then, she is determined to keep her distance from people, and avoid getting close to anyone, just as she has done since the curse rumours first began.
That is, until she meets Aiden- the new boy at school. He’s different to the others, and doesn’t believe the rumours that surround Black. But when he accompanies her to the school formal, and is later found unconscious in the street, everything comes to a head. The rumours spread again, more vicious than before, and old secrets emerge that change Black’s life forever. When another incident occurs, suddenly Dainsfield is no longer safe for Black. With only her friend and colleague Ed by her side to help her, Black must uncover the truth about The Whisperers and bring their tyranny to an end…
This is an unusual offering for the teen novel genre, but it works well. Although there are cult and demonic themes, the storyline is credible and does not waiver into clichéd and fantastical story arcs. Instead, readers are treated to a plot that features a very normal girl living within a paranoid, small-town environment (which just happens to be the home of a secret sect determined to exorcise her). The fact that this novel is set within three hours’ drive of Melbourne helps to make this story much more realistic (at least in my mind), setting the tone for a slightly creepy, but wholly enjoyable narrative. Black’s relationships with Aiden, Ed and her parents are as normal as they would be for any teen, and the author’s portrayal of Father Ratchet and his secretive crew is on pointe. Like Black, readers won’t know who she can trust, who the real enemies are, or how to deal with such an extraordinary situation.
While the ending of this novel was a little too tidy for my liking, Black was still a great read, and kept me intrigued until the conclusion. With different tones to her previous young adult novel, Risk, Ferris has shown that she is able to diversify her writing talents, and I look forward to reading her next offering.