Whisper Down The Lane is a psychological horror novel that drew inspiration from the McMartin Trials and the "Satanic panic" of the 1980s. The book is told from the perspective of a boy named Sean in the 1980s and a teacher named Richard in the 2010s. While I appreciated the parallels to real-life cases, I found the storyline could have been more compelling. What happened in the past is super disturbing and causes repercussions in the present, but I didn't feel emotionally impacted enough to feel for the characters.
The book is an interesting exploration of how false memories can be created, particularly in children. There are scenes of interviews between a child and an adult, and it's clear the child is susceptible to leading questions from a person with authority. The idea of how one lie can turn into something bigger and horrible is scary enough, and the book is successful in that regard. Read this if you're interested in the Satanic panic horror era.
Cripes, that was something. I'm stunned. This is one of the best books I've read so far this year. I think it'll stick with me for a long time.
Fun fictionalized version of the 1980s Satanic panic, author did research and recommends reading resources and movies at the end. I enjoyed the duel timelines.
Interesting concept and take on the Satanic Panic. The author and/or editor could have done just a few quick Google searches to avoid some anachronisms like the kid comparing himself to a California Raisin at a time before that well-known set of characters appeared in commercials. For readers who like suspense but hate cruelty to animals--and I am one of these-- here's a warning: it appears in this book more than once and that is a huge negative for me. I understand why the author chose to include these scenes, but it's a hard no for me and I would caution readers who find such things disturbing that they may wish to sit this one out.
This was just mediocre. I'm kind of shocked there's such great reviews when it seems like kind of gratuitous child abuse.
The twist did get me though.
Richard doesn't have a past. For him, there is only the present: a new marriage, a first chance at fatherhood, and a quiet life as an art teacher in Virginia. Then the body of a ritualistically murdered rabbit appears on his school's playground, along with a birthday card for him. But Richard hasn't celebrated his birthday since he was known as Sean...
In the 1980s, Sean was five years old when his mother asked him if his favorite teacher had ever been inappropriate with him. In the course of one conversation, Sean was led to tell a lie. When school administrators, cops, and therapists questioned him, he told another. And another. And another. Each fueled the fire of a moral panic that engulfed the nation―and destroyed the lives of everyone around him. Now, thirty years later, someone is here to tell Richard that they know what Sean did. But who would even know that these two are one and the same?
What a read. I thought the two storylines side by side was going to get old very quick and confuse me but they were so well written and flowed so effortlessly together I don’t see how the book could have been structured any other way. Filled with horror, suspense and tension this was a whirlwind of a story from start to finish. With an amazing final twist you don’t want to miss this one.
This has been on my TBR for so long I am so glad i finally got to it. I would classify this as more of a thriller / mystery read. Has some horror aspects but it’s not a horror novel. I am always game for a book placed in the satanic panic era of the 80’s & 90’s though so I did enjoy this read. My rating for this as a thriller book truly would have been a 3.5 maybe a 4 but because it was labeled as horror & i found myself waiting for the horror vibes, I think I have to bump it down to a 3. I also think it was a little predicable & the ending left me feeling unsatisfied.
Whisper Down the Lane Review!
Thank you so much Quirk Books and Netgalley for this gifted copy, in exchange for an honest review! Whisper Down the Lane is out now!
The 80s have my heart. As soon as I hear that a horror book is based on the 80s, it is in my radar. Whisper Down the Land was a 4.5/5 ⭐️ for me! Oh the Satanic panic, some weird times (which I love to read about 😄). This one reminded me a lot of The Chalk Man with the different povs of present day adults and then children in the 80s. Who doesn’t love creepy kids?? But who does hate AWFUL children’s psychologists. I just cringed the whole time at poor Sean’s time with her. This one was fun! I did see the twist coming about half way through and it was a little far out there, but still very suspenseful!
Synopsis: Sean was 5 years old when he told a lie about his teacher. This lie was told during the Satanic panic in the 80s, so it was believed by the community and blew up. 30 years later Richard, an art school teacher, starts to get warnings that seem ritualistic. Someone is trying to dig up his past.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
This was a really creepy take on the Satanic Panic. I loved all the vivid imagery and the little Easter eggs as well
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.