Cover Image: Whisper Down the Lane

Whisper Down the Lane

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Member Reviews

Whisper Down The Lane was so good. Definitely reminded me a little bit of the 90's satanic panic times. Just the perfect mix of scary and twisty!
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This book was exactly what it needed to be. You follow a teacher in more current times (2013) and a young boy in 1982. What’s scary here is how true it all felt, for back then and even for now. It’s not the supernatural that can be truly horrifying, it’s people and how fast things  can get out of control. This was very well done in the book, paced perfectly and feels very real throughout. 

Note: ebook provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for honest review. 
5 stars
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This book is inspired by the McMartin preschool trials and the Satanic Panic of the ‘80s. The story is told in alternating timelines (Richard in 2013 and Sean in 1983). It lays the groundwork of the original tale of the preschool trials in the 1983 timeline while the 2013 timeline makes you wonder if the past is coming back up. I enjoyed that the story was told this way and felt it seamlessly weaved the story together. However, if it was meant to be a mystery how the timelines are connected then it missed the mark. I thought it was fairly obvious. It's a story full of coercion and panic. It shows how easily leading questions can lead to false testimony, which then leads to life-ruining consequences. It shows how quickly stories can spread and fiction turned into fact. This is where the horror is found. In my opinion it's a more subtle horror than gore, but it's horrifying how easily it can occur. Overall I had a great time reading this book.
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3.5 stars
I went in not knowing what this book was about and only read after that it was inspired by true events. I saw it as an ARC on NetGalley but ended up listening to it on audible. 

The duel perspective and flashbacks to the MCs early childhood, really set the stage of this massive lie that was told, which had finally caught up to him. His lies led to multiple teachers being ruined but one in particular paid a heavy price. With the satanic type incidents and pentagrams being left in ritualistic ways, it was as if someone was taunting him, and at one point I thought he might have had multiple personality disorder. I thought that the MC may have been blacking out or switching personalities and actually tormenting himself - he was doing all this random acts not remembering/blacking out. To me, it was plausible. I wasn’t expecting that ending and who the real culprit was.

It was a good thriller with a lot of build up. Makes you question the mind with how a retelling of a story doesn’t always match up to the memory. I liked how false memory psychology was explored in this book and how police tactics can enhance false memories via interrogation.
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Eep! I did not enjoy this book. I thought it was far too long and really boring. I also found it very cliched as there are many books that felt like this. Do not recommend.
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Apologies to this author whose other work I adore. I had every intention of finishing this and reviewing it, but the formatting of the ebook was so out of whack that I couldn’t focus on the narrative. It was becoming very frustrating and I didn’t want that negative experience to impact my feelings toward the story. I’ll give it 3 stars because I could tell that the writing was good, if only it had been easier to actually read it…
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This was a really creepy take on the Satanic Panic. I loved all the vivid imagery and the little Easter eggs as well
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This is true crime-based horror, a psychological thriller about a man trying to discover who he really is, which requires him to reconcile some of the things he's done. It's not easy. It would be really easy to lose one's grip while trying to figure all that out, and build a life, and have a job and a family. No wonder Richard is losing it. 

Whisper Down the Lane is evenly paced, and as Richard's life falls apart, the parallels between his story and the story of his own teacher, many years ago, grow more clear. Although tightly plotted, the narrative doesn't move at a breakneck pace, letting the reader get to know Richard, making it all the more traumatic as his world unravels. It's impossible to prevent the impending crash and impossible to look away: no one's coming out of this one unscathed.
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4 stars
First off Clay McLeod Chapman always puts out a good horror! This one is no different. I have always been fascinated with the satanic panic of the 80’s 90’s and this is a good exploration of that. Also kids in horror are always a good spooky addition. Overall this is a good slow burn horror and I loved Every minute of it.
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The book is very dark and disturbing. 
If you like or love anything about satanic elements, you would love this book. The satanic panic and the consequences it brings form the well bult part of the storyline. 
It was a nice but nonetheless a bit challenging read.
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I still feel a bit conflicted about this book. I guess it all comes down to your taste and interests. Not a bad book by any means, just not the kind of horror I was expecting.

Slow beginning - it does have a strange pacing, in my opinion. But once we reach 70% the story becomes really fast paced and you won’t be able to put the book down until you finish it.
Past timeline - the chapters from 1983 were more intriguing, at least the ones from the first half. I kept wanting to know more about Sean and how it would all unfold, to get more answers and try to solve what was happening in the present chapters.
Animal abuse - not much I can say without spoiling, just know that animals don’t have a happy ending in this book.
Creepy kids - you may not be surprised about the reveal. I was weary of them the whole time.
Unreliable narrator - the MC is the one who narrates the present timeline and as his life spirals out of control, so does his recount of the events.
Not “scare jump” horror - the book relies more on the ugliness of human actions rather than scaring the reader with shocking scenes.
The twist - for me it was a bit easy to predict. I did figure who the mysterious person was so I wasn’t all that surprised when they were finally revealed.

Whisper Down the Lane is a crude story that explores the power of fear and it shows us that not all kids are innocent. Manipulation and distortion are just as dangerous as lies and they can bring a lot of destruction.
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This nail biter is an interesting tale on how the past no matter where you run can always resurface when you least expect it.

Chapman’s new novel is an interesting look at the Satanic Panic of the 80’s and how this spun out of control through media and became a witch hunt during this time.  I worked with a social work team during the Orkney scare during this time so I was interesting to see what Chapman could bring to the table.

Using a Salem Witch template to give a powerful narrative, Chapman succeeds to bring a tense narrative and bring the present and the past together.  The plot balances the two-story threads together to give a well-rounded memorable experience to the reader.  He also balances enough facts woven with the story, so we get a full realisation of the scare within a fictional sense.  

The story is interesting because we get what happened to a person after they become a media story that would overtake the news feeds for weeks and then they disappear back into their lives.  We get this set up with Richard who is a normal guy living his life but as the story unravels, we have a boy who forty years prior alleged that would tear a community apart.

The characters are well written and there is a nice change between older and younger selves giving a well-rounded view of each of the characters.  There is a realistic feel about their actions and their speech given this a true crime feeling.

The plot is well developed and very involving which years the reader to keep turning the pages.  This is not a book to take lightly and something you will want to dip in and out.  Once you get started, expect your days to be consumed as you will not be able to put this down.
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Whisper Down the Lane is a dark and oftentimes rage-inducing tale of identity, guilt, and pain. Richard, an art teacher in Virginia comes across a gutted school rabbit that appears to have ritualistic connotations. It shouts out at him and can’t help but wonder if it was carried out in his name. This is a story often not healthy for the reader's continuation of life – but isn’t that the best kind of novel? It’s edgy and frank and it doesn’t care for your feelings…it doesn’t care one bit.

Whisper Down the Lane is hard-hitting – think of a mallet pounding into your temple. With that visual in mind, it will give you a more realistic view of how this book made me feel. Chapman’s intricate motivation for his research pays off, I felt more than once throwing the book across the room. I ached for characters and I wanted to thoroughly shake more than one of them.

We are given two alternating POVs from 5-year-old Sean in 1983 and thirty-something Richard in 2013. Sean is a timid little boy who has never quite found his place amongst friends or at school. He’s essentially a pleaser and wants everyone to be happy. If that’s telling the adults what they want to hear, so be it. He moves to Greenfield, Virginia with his mum. His mum doesn’t have much, and it comes across as if she is constantly running from something. She’s a vacant and emotionally distant parental figure and from here I think that Sean perpetually wants to please everyone. He’s never fully got the love from his mother and he craves it…he needs it. All is going well in his new school, until of course, it isn’t.

Whispers Down the Lane is impeccable at examining the intricacies of the pressures and strains and the deck of cards type impact of serious allegations. One white lie is all it takes to set off a disastrous chain of events for all involved. Careers and families are destroyed for many years to come. We meet Richard an art teacher who lives with his wife Tamara and her five-year-old son. He wants to have a great relationship with him and talks to him about his adoptive past. Today’s events start spiraling and he quickly loses control. Guilt is a powerful emotion, and this was probably the best example of it that I have ever read.

The story is so fucking complex, and my eyes ended up stinging from how intensely I was staring at the words. Nothing was as black and white as it was being out to be. A story so superbly imaginative but realistic in the same breath. I loved the portrayal of satanism thrown into the mix because nothing winds people up more is the thought of children mixed up in satanic ritual. It’s a horror story of how humanity can be turned and that’s the real horror – humans can be the real horror.

Whisper Down the Lane is no trope rehash – it's original and a genuine page-turner. Authentically chilling.
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“I never believed in the Devil. Until the Devil began believing in me.” 

If you’re at all interested in the satanic panic, then this one is for you. It’s a fictionalized story of what it would have been like to be at the center of it all. I can see this one becoming a movie, especially since Elijah Wood interviewed the author. 

I kind of called what was going to happen, but the execution of it was nonetheless flawless. And then the last few pages…👏🏻👏🏻 What a way to finish. I highly recommend this for those interested in thrillers, true crime, and Gyllian Flynn/Karin Slaughter.
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So the first thing that drew me to this book was definitely the cover!! I did not realise until after I had finished reading that it was based on true crime!

Told in alternating chapters of Sean(1983) and Richard(2013) who are the same person this is done well and didn't at any point become confusing and then their stories eventually become intertwined.

Based on Satanic Panic of the 80's this book has some dark and pretty creepy scenes! It was a really gripping read and definitely psychological horror as you see the lies and how Sean was pushed by the adults who were supposed to be protecting him and at the same time watch Richard becomes an unreliable narrator as his mental health declines! Just imagine a white lie you told as a child spiralled and spiralled so far that your whole life would never be the same again! 

One thing that annoyed me was.... If Richard as an adult had just owned up and came clean to the other adults in his life he would have saved a whole lot of hassle 🤷🏻🤣
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I couldn’t read this title due to the poor formatting on the eBook. I tried to read via kindle app on my iPhone, browser, and my actual kindle. I redownloaded with no help either. I’m going to read the physical book but, for positive reviews please please format this.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Quirk Books for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review. This was a novel I feel like I've been waiting to read for years. I've always had an underlying fascination with the satanic panic era of history and this book takes that era of history and explores it in a fictional (but slightly too true) way. It bases some of its main storyline on the McMartin preschool trial which is a true thing that happened and I encourage you to research a bit about that before jumping into this if you are not already familiar. This book is sporadic in a good way. I could never get a good grasp on the main character's thoughts despite some of the book being written in first person because as a reader you aren't supposed to know what to trust. The unreliable narrator trope is one I usually love but it is not usually done as well as it is in this novel. One thing I don't usually love in books is small time jumps because I like to sit with characters in the more dull moments and in their thoughts but it somehow worked for this novel. I would've loved it to be longer, but the shorter novel length with skips where not too much plot was occurring works. If you are looking for classic horror without fancy bells and whistles, this is for you. The simple writing style made it super easy to read and kept me engaged the entire time. It also had one of the best opening scenes of a horror novel I have ever read. I never wanted to put the book down and flew through its faster pacing. This would make a fantastic horror movie and now I really want to see it done. Can't wait to check out other works by this author.
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Sometimes it benefits readers going blind into reading a new novel - this isn't the case with Whisper Down the Lane.

Given its basis on a true story, this would have made it more of a cohesive read (certainly early on).

We flit between two-time frames, a 5-year old who becomes involved in a satanic panic case at his school and Richard, a thirty-something who has recently married a woman who also has a young boy.

This makes for a jarring read given there doesn't seem to be too much connective tissue until around halfway through the story.

From here on out Whispers Down The Lane becomes a really engrossing read and doesn't hold back from going to some dark places.

As I say, do a little bit of background before you start and you will be guaranteed to really enjoy this story.
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I was excited to read this one, but the ARC I have received is completely unreadable, worst formatting I have ever seen.
Will purchase instead.
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Thanks to NetGalley for an e-arc of this in exchange for a fair and honest review.

In some ways, this book just wasn't for me. In other ways, it's objectively bland. I came into this expecting for some kind of demonic/satanic horror story. Sure, that's there, but the book is also openly advertised as true-crime based horror. I prefer fantasy-supernatural stories, but this isn't that. I don't think it being that made it objectively bad. Although, it was the first bit of disappointment. Too often, thriller books like to play at being horror when they are so blatantly not horror (cough cough, Riley Sager), and it seriously undercuts the effectiveness of the book for me as a horror reader. To Chapman's credit, this was 100% horror. The creep was there, even terror at times. Even knowing this was all make believe, it was disturbing. Nevertheless, I don't understand the desire to undercut your book from the get go, but completely dismissing the mere possibility that maybe this is something more going on (it's fiction after all). In some ways, it excels. In others, it's its own worse any enemy.

Then there are the more fundamental problems with the book. The story, while interesting, and objectively compelling, is full of caricatures. It's almost laughable how much of this story is built on stereotypes. It's cringe at time. "I heard sandy hook was a hoax by the Dems to push gun control." *Then proceeds a generic back and forth meant to highlight he absurdity of such people. Don't get me wrong, everything in this is based on real things that have happened, but it lacks nuance. It makes the book be nothing more than an entertaining ride. Entertaining isn't bad; although it can be lazy IMO. 

Speaking of lazy, much of the story is built on convenient mental illness. Even our main character, as traumatic as his childhood was, seems perfectly fine (mostly) in his adulthood, until he is not. Again, don't get me wrong, many of the choices in the book seem reasonable in concept, but the execution is sub par.  The reliance on mental health feels lazy and poorly handled. Chapman had a great opportunity to really dig into the themes explored in this book, but he failed to do that. The entire book is built on a child being coerced into making wildly insane and untrue claims. I don't think sufficient effort was put into acknowledging his role as a victim, considering he was a child. 

I know I'm focusing on the bad, but isn't all bad. It's resoundingly fine.

3/5 stars
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