Whisperwood

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Pub Date 11 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 08 Aug 2023

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Description

A must-read dark fantasy debut for fans of "The Witcher", woodland survival guides, the gruesome original Grimm Brothers stories, and dark folklore from around the world...

A journey into the wild woods with a character who just needs a break—and the terrible things that stare back at her.

When curious nomad Anna hears about Whisperwood, a town that’s not on any maps, that nobody goes to, and nobody comes from, she sees an opportunity to hide from her violent witch-hunting ex.

But not everything is peaceful in the isolated community. A vanishing town, a gruesome funeral rite, an emergency field surgery—these surprises and more test Anna's resolve.

Prevented from leaving the frontier settlement by folk magic she doesn’t understand, Anna lends helping hands everywhere she can, but quickly finds that investigating the forest too closely could end up being the last thing she does.

A must-read dark fantasy debut for fans of "The Witcher", woodland survival guides, the gruesome original Grimm Brothers stories, and dark folklore from around the world...

A journey into the wild...


A Note From the Publisher

About the Author: ALEX WOODROE is a Romanian writer and editor of dark speculative fiction. She’s the author of Whisperwood, as well as several short horror, fantasy, and science-fiction stories published in venues like Dark Matter Magazine, Horror Library, the Nosleep podcast, and more. She lives in the heart of the Transylvanian region of Romania, and lets her country’s culture and unique natural landscapes influence her work. She’s been a translator, a beermaid, a teacher, a copywriter, and a dog trainer, but ultimately realized she wouldn’t be happy until she terrified people for a living. Alex now runs her own company doing freelance editing, translations, and writing, as well as working as an acquisitions editor for Indie Horror upstart, Tenebrous Press.

About the Author: ALEX WOODROE is a Romanian writer and editor of dark speculative fiction. She’s the author of Whisperwood, as well as several short horror, fantasy, and science-fiction stories...


Advance Praise

"...Dark, but also achingly heartfelt, clever, and funny."

- Lauren Bolger, Author of Kill Radio [Malarkey Books, 2023]

"...Dark, but also achingly heartfelt, clever, and funny."

- Lauren Bolger, Author of Kill Radio [Malarkey Books, 2023]


Marketing Plan

FLAME TREE PRESS is the imprint of long-standing independent Flame Tree Publishing, dedicated to full-length original fiction in the horror and suspense, science fiction & fantasy, and crime / mystery / thriller categories. The list brings together fantastic new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

Learn more about Flame Tree Press at www.flametreepress.com and connect on social media @FlameTreePress

FLAME TREE PRESS is the imprint of long-standing independent Flame Tree Publishing, dedicated to full-length original fiction in the horror and suspense, science fiction & fantasy, and crime /...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781787588424
PRICE CA$21.95 (CAD)
PAGES 304

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Average rating from 142 members


Featured Reviews

I don't usually dip my toes in fantasy but, every once in a while, a book comes along that piques my interest and this book is one of them.

This is a dark fantasy with several horror elements that made it unique and highly engaging. Whisperwood is a town with secrets. Nobody ever wanders in and those who dare cannot leave if they stay past sundown.

Anna is a young woman who is escaping a horrifying situation. She was kept in a cellar and tortured by a psychopath who she thought she loved and trusted. She was shunned by family and friends in her former village, being accused of witchcraft.

She winds up in Whisperwood to try and escape those horrors, completely unaware that the things in this village are much more terrifying than she could imagine.

Throughout this novel we'll meet the townsfolk, learn what secrets abound there, and get an up close look at the creatures from another realm who are at war with the humans here. As Anna tries to understand her new life and home, it soon becomes apparent that there are other forces at work behind the scenes (both human and supernatural) and she might have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.

Filled with frightening creatures, plenty of action, and often bloody set pieces, Whisperwood is a fantastic dark fantasy that will keep you reading. The world building is excellent and you'll love the characters (maybe even wind up hating some). It's an excellent example of mixing fantasy with horror and I recommend it.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Whisperwood was exactly what it promised to be, a dark fantasy about a woman investigating a mysterious town and the forest. I loved the time and atmosphere in this, it did feel a bit like reading a dark fairy tale and Anna served as a wonderful narrator for the story. All together, this was a really good read that kept me interested all the way through.

Note: arc provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for honest review

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This was an amazing book. I considered it to be more folk horror than fantasy, but regardless of how it's labeled, it was a great book. I think this one will be one people talk about. I will definitely be buying a physical copy. This is one talented author.

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3.5/4 starts: I really wanted to like this book, and I did, but it took me a bit to get into the groove of the story being told. To be completely honest, I've just started reading horror-based books, so it's entirely possible that this theme isn't for me as a reader.

Woodroe's story follows our main character, Anna, who is pretty relatable overall. She's a woman escaping from a traumatic past by entering a small, unknown town. She cannot for the life of her say no to anyone, which is the nice-girl personality trait that can become annoying over time. Anna builds relationships with some of the townsfolk, and becomes the scapegoat for others, all while exploring superstitions and folklore. This town seems very different from others, having another world bordering on their town...creepy!

What I liked about this book: Woodroe is downright creative! The world that is created is imaginative and unique and definitely keeps the reader guessing. I also like that Woodroe went through the process of describing her creations so that the reader could build a good picture in their mind while pulling together the various pieces. The pacing seemed a tad fast at the beginning, but the action sequences pulled me in and spit me out just to pull me in all over again. I was rooting for characters that I didn't know much about and read quickly through the heart-pounding events that Woodroe presents throughout Whisperwood.

What I didn't like as much: There are sometimes too many characters to know, which limited my ability to connect with them. The communication was short and felt a bit shallow or childish at times, which had me leaning toward action sequences in which no one talked. Woodroe uses dialogue to build a better picture of Whisperwood and its inhabitants, but it felt choppy overall. The friendships felt like insta-friendships, which is not bad and likely makes sense with the trauma this town constantly endures; however, it felt too fast for me to really get to know anyone deeply outside of our main character. Some of the comparisons felt really outlandish to me, comparing an experience to a cow telling time...what? They just didn't land for me as a reader.

Overall, Whisperwood was an enjoyable read for me and a good way for me to start dipping my toes into other genres. I appreciate and thank Alex Woodroe, Flametree Press, and Netgalley for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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In Whisperwood we follow Anna into an insular isolated village which people rarely enter and never leave and secrets abound. This is a dark fantasy folk horror story with really interesting folklore and world building. Anna making her way in this village and meeting the various people living there and exploring what is going on with this overlapping shadow realm in the forest and what lives within it and how the village has coexisted and survived along side it was really interesting.

The pacing of how the relationships between the various the characters were formed could be stronger, at times it moved quite fast, although given the nature of the town it made a certain kind of sense. Also, the pacing does slow down at certain points but I feel this works within the story giving it an otherworldly quality. Overall I really enjoyed it and would really like to read more from this author.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I honestly didn't think I'd enjoy this book as much as I did.

There was a small amount of setup at the beginning but the story moved very quickly which I loved. Anna was a great character to learn along with. I enjoyed how quickly Anna connected with the other members of Whisperwood. This story was surprisingly heartfelt while also having a good amount of action & horror.

The author wasn't scared to take risks with characters and how they approached situations.

This book was also a fast read (only took me a night or two). I would honestly recommend this to anyone even if horror/fantasy isn't your preferred genre.

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Whisperwood by Alex Woodroe is a wild adventure into the unknown. One that I think many readers are going to love and resonate with. Our heroine of this story, Anna, is a woman on the run. She has escaped a truly dark and horrific moment of her life and she is trying to make positive strides forward and create a life for herself. Enter Whisperwood our creepy and dark town full of secrets and colorful characters. Whisperwood creates scenery for some truly creepy and scary imagery and I found myself shivering with some of the descriptions that Woodroe presented. This book is mediumly paced and it did take me a moment to grasp what was going on, but this is dark speculative fiction that readers are going to love. Although I found myself lost within the world-building at times, Woodroe brought me back from the precipice by keeping things action-filled and bloody. Check this story out! I think readers are going to love it!

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Prior to reading Whisperwood, I knew Alex Woodroe as an excellent editor and a tireless supporter of indie authors. I had read one short story by her, “Searching for Uberwald” in the excellent collection, It Was All a Dream—in my review I called it a story steeped in Romanian folklore, lyrical and haunting.

Whisperwood is all that and so much more, a tale awash in mystery and magic, with a cast of characters who are achingly real whether they’re human or not. The novel is timeless, set sometime in a rural, Eastern European distant past, although clues make it clear there are larger towns in existence.

Anna is a young woman fleeing a toxic relationship from a man who nearly killed her and then poisoned her entire world against her, convincing them she’s a witch. She’s trying to get lost, to both save herself and maybe find a purpose. The place she finds is the small, mysterious village of Whisperwood, a place so isolated, so insular, that it’s hard to find and even harder to enter.

She discovers a village in turmoil, a liminal place where deep folk magic coexists tensely with another world, an uneasy balance that can’t hold. Before long she’s embroiled in events spinning wildly out of control.

Woodroe’s language is evocative—she draws you into her world and keeps you hanging on every word. Her characters, particularly Anna, are fully realized. In fact, I fell a little in love with Anna. She’s flawed and unsure of herself, but also brave as can be, with a hidden reserve of strength that she shares with everyone around her. Woodroe’s setting, absolutely saturated with magic, is well-thought out and intriguing. This may be a first novel, but it doesn’t read like it.

Whisperwood release July 13, 2023, and is available for pre-order now. Meanwhile, I’m already looking forward to her next novel.

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As soon as I heard about Whisperwood by Alex Woodroe I was eager to read it. I know Alex as an incredibly talented editor and a lover of all things folk horror. I have to admit, the Romanian folklore aspect was of particular appeal as I love learning about the folklore of other cultures.

The opening drew me in with its hint of backstory and had me asking lots of questions. The M.C., Anna, is flawed because of her past, a past fraught with danger which she is trying to escape. There’s an innocence to Anna, a naivete that somewhat belies her past. She is quick to trust considering her background and forms friendships easily, almost too easily at times, I felt, but that might just be the cynical side of me. Nevertheless I admired her courage and openness.

The story definitely had a timeless feel, and I was particularly drawn in by the parts involving the folkloric Whispers. The world building in Whisperwood was also excellently done and very visual. I truly felt I was right there with her. The overall sense of place was rife with mystery and unease.

As a comp, the writing and overall feel of Whisperwood reminded me of A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge which was previously shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year. If that’s your vibe then I highly recommend you read this one because I would classify this as folk fantasy rather than horror. Yes there are some horrific moments and I’m not a genre purist, not in the least, but that is my overall impression. Also, because many of the characters are so young and because of the fantasy elements I would say it would appeal to a YA audience as well as adult fantasy readers.

An enjoyable read.

My thanks to the author and publisher for providing an ARC of the novel.

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Beautifully dark and incredibly satisfying, Whisperwood left me wanting more, and craving answers the author and the story were determined to keep, and yet also left me feeling fulfilled. Wonderfully written and filled with rich characters and lush landscapes that thrill and terrify, this book is one I couldn’t put down. I cannot wait to have a physical copy in my hands, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have read an ARC copy.

There isn’t enough praise I can give for Whisperwood. Alex Woodroe paints a picture of a troubled town, hiding secrets, and instantly makes you love and hate the people in it at the same time. You fall hard for “heroes,” only to have them die before your eyes. You feel for those who offer kindness, only to discover how cruel they can be. Reading Whisperwood, you meet PEOPLE, not just characters.

And these people take you on an adventure as the narrator, Anna, walks through that same journey. As in life, there are high notes, and despondent sadnesses. Victories, and losses. Shame and regret, and also new beginnings.

Also as in life, there are questions that are never answered, and perhaps the story is all the better for it. Even in a land where terrors and the unknown are the norm, there are just some things which have no explanation.

What would life be if we had all the answers?

Something other than life, that is certain.

Whisperwood makes you feel this, and allows you to see the normal, simple light of day as a little brighter than it was before you entered the book’s pages. What more can you ask of any story?

Enter the woods if you dare, and find what waits for you there.

You can be sure it IS waiting for you.

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This was my first time reading a dark horror-based fantasy. Usually, I stick to lighter fantasy, but this book was really refreshing. I would probably categorize Whisperwood into the folk horror genre.

The entire concept is extremely unique. Anna is a woman with a traumatic past, looking for an escape. She arrives to Whisperwood and finds that there are mysterious happenings and secrets. The author does an amazing job describing the situations that Anna finds herself in. I could feel my anxiety building during tense and creepy scenes because I was so engrossed by the writing.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes folk horror, but maybe don't read it before bed if you want to sleep at night.

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Anna is a young woman running away from a traumatic past. Searching for a place to hide, she comes to Whisperwood, a strange town surrounded by a haunted forest filled with monsters. But as Anna makes friends, learns more about the history of the town and walks across the border between the worlds, it becomes clear that the forest is not the only place inhabited by monsters.

Part horror folktale and part fast-paced adventure, Whisperwood was a surprise. I expected something slower and scarier. Still, the author took me to an adventure filled with humour, unexpected twists and fascinating creatures inspired by Romanian folklore.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy in return for an honest review.

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This is a dark and sinister tale that, almost from the first page, put me in mind of the Brothers Grimm because it really is a story full of scary stuff. Essentially it is all about Anna and her quest. She is curious. A little too curious for her own good as her curiosity takes her deep into Whisperwood - a fabled place that, to all intents and purposes doesn't exist.

Her journey leads her into dangers and confrontations with the scariest creatures and demons imaginable. The laws of nature don't apply. Nothing is as it should be in Whisperwood. Anna must help those she can, while avoiding the worst this hostile, supernatural environment can throw at her. It won't be easy. It could cost her her life and the lives of those with whom she comes into contact.

Alex Woodroe is a new name in horror-fantasy. She brings with her a wealth of folklore, atorytelling, myth, magic and a darkness born of dense, seemingly impenetrable forests and her eastern European culture (she hails from the Transylvanian region of Romania). I felt a strong sense of gothic darkness all through this riveting story.

I feel we will hear much more from Alex Woodroe - a refreshing and significant new voice with many a scary tale to tell

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I really enjoyed reading The Whisperwood. I especially appreciated that Anna was just a normal person; there was no chosen one trope or super power in sight. I often found myself as frustrated as Anna with not having any information or knowledge, and I'm honestly not sure if that added to or detracted from the reading experience, but it was certainly effective in keeping me turning those pages. I don't often find stories with female main characters that don't eventually devolve into a love story and a knight to the rescue scenario, so it's always great to find one. I found the Unspoken and it's inhabitants fascinating, and I would definitely read other books about it.

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I'm struggling to decide on a rating for this, so I'll give it a 3 for now and maybe revise later.

As a concept, this is interesting. It's creepy but not scary. There are fantasy elements. It's fast paced and short. I liked the high stakes and dark tone.

Relationships between characters developed very quickly - Anna shows up and is almost instantly friends with others in town. She is very quickly brought into the inner fold and becomes essential without any experience or real basis for this. Bright side is that there's no "instalove" just instant friendships, so I'll let it slide.

The characters themselves were a little underdeveloped. They were built for the plot and served their individual purposes, but I never attached to anyone. This made certain scenes fall short as they needed some emotional investment from the reader.

The one relationship I cared for was platonic (though I did think it was intended to be romantic for a while). It was decently developed and cute! I liked the way it played out and was rooting for them to end up together in the end in one way or another.

This was a fine read but lacks the depth I personally want in a book. I still don't really get Anna's backstory or why she made the choices she did. I don't understand the nuance of the ending because the other half of this world wasn't fully explained or explored.

Is this intended to be a series? Because if not I feel like a lot was left unresolved.

I wish this had been longer, specifically for more character development and more details about the fantasy side of this.

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"Whisperwood" is an addictive and thought provoking fantasy novel with elements of horror and folklore. This fast-paced, nail-biting read delves into a world of monsters and folkloric creatures that don't just go bump in the night, but when you least expect it. I loved the Whispers. Woodroe did an excellent job of bringing these creatures to life, I could easily picture them and their horror. This one will be for you if you're a fan of dark fairytale-esque tales and spine tingling horrors.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Whisperwood is the story of Anna, a woman running from her past. Anna ends up hitching a ride with a merchant to the town of Whisperwood. Whisperwood is a puzzle to figure out but the further Anna digs the more horrible things become.

I liked Anna and found all the characters engaging though some I liked more than others. Whisperwood is as much a character of the novel as Anna. I wish that we had more time with some of the side characters though. There was one in particular I wish stuck around longer. Even so, there were plenty of characters to make the world feel alive.

I agree with other reviewers that Whisperwood is folk horror. I worry that it will get lost in the general horror genre which would be a shame. People that like folk horror take note and put this on your tbr.

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Whisperwood is a masterful mix of folklore and fantasy intertwined with a grounded realism that makes the story leap off the page. There is almost a Wizard of Oz quality to the way Anna seeks to escape a traumatic past and winds up in a storybook village (but which version of the Grimm tales?). Woodroe introduces a wide array of characters, allowing the reader to understand them through action and dialogue, all the while maintaining an eerie and unsettling atmosphere. Whisperwood draws on (what I assume are) Romanian legends, folktales, and creatures to bring new elements to horror and etch new nightmares into the minds of the reader.

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3.75 ⭐️

Don’t ask me why but I thought this was actually going to be a fae romance and omg it is not.
No romance whatsoever and no faes either. Although it’s a fantasy, a darker one. An horror one I’d say.

I usually never read horror so I feel a little bit out of depth in “criticising” this book. So, i’ll do what i’ve been asked and give my opinion.

I honestly liked this book. From the very first page I was sucked in and couldn’t put it down. Anna’s story is one of resilience and bravery.

The world building wasn’t hard to get nor was it too much too soon. It is puzzling to me how an outsider who didn’t even know such things existed until a week before could be the key to solving a problem but that’s just the chosen one trope.

Besides Anna and maybe Perdy, the characters are not that three dimensional. They feel a bit like stock characters and I don’t know if that was the desired effect, it’s something peculiar to the genre or…

Either way, “Whisperwood” is a creepy, action packed reflection on human nature. On how the “unknown” immediately becomes dangerous and how right and wrong are only a matter of perspective.

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A wild ride into a world full of mystery and monsters. Whisperwood is a dark fantasy tale with elements of folk horror inspired by Romanian legends. (We need more of this!!) Vividly written, packed with action and humour, and featuring unique, unforgettable characters - this captivating story lured me into its world and kept me under its spell until the end. Unsettling and creepy, teeming with secrets and dangers - Whisperwood is a delightful read.

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Note: Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Fantasy, Folklore, Horror, Adventure...this book has it all!

The story follows Anna, a woman on the run from her past and the man who attempted to kill her. After being accused of being a witch, her family and friends all turned on her. In looking for a place to hide, she heads toward Whisperwood. Stories said that people did not wander into Whisperwood after sunset and those that did, never returned. What better place to hide?

Anna soon discovers how true those stories are and is very quickly immersed in the horrors, both seen and unseen, within this town.

This book was so intriguing, fast paced and so unique! The world building was so well done and so detailed, you could envision the eeriness of the town, the "Whispers", and all the action in such descriptive detail. The character building was a little rushed but I viewed the rushed loyalty as Anna, being a nomad, was craving someone to call a friend to stave off her loneliness.

Could not recommend this book enough! It had me on the edge of my seat and really rooting for the characters! I will definitely be buying a physical copy when it is released!

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Woodroe's prose reads like T Kingfisher's, with its lush setting seen through a dream-like gaze. The story quickly draws you slowly into a nightmare with roots in Romanian folklore, and you find yourself rooting for Anna, even as you want to follow her deeper into the woods, where the border between superstition and reality blurs. The liminal town of Whisperwood, where no one really belongs, enthralled, terrified, and kept me guessing until the unexpected ending.

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