Title: A Hymn in the Silence
Series: Dark Is the Night: Book Two
Authors: Kelley York and Rowan Altwood
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 198 Pages
Category: Historical, Horror
At a Glance: One of the singular highlights of York and Altwood’s collaboration on this series is their ability to draw every scene, whether it be terrifying or sedate or romantic, in such a way that one can’t help but be drawn into the story visually or emotionally, or both, simultaneously. Their work is clever, intricate, and detailed, though never in a way that reads as anything but fast paced and purely entertaining.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Since graduating from Whisperwood School for Boys, William has found a sense of normalcy in his life with James. He has a steady (albeit secret) relationship, a home, and a job—even if it doesn’t pay the greatest. Nevermind that he lacks James’ reckless bravery when it comes to dealing with spirits; he does his best and it hasn’t killed him thus far.
When a new client calls on their expertise in solving a grisly multiple homicide, William resists. They’re spirit hunters, not detectives. But the money is too much to pass up when they don’t know when their next meal will be, and soon they’re arriving at Evenbury Manor, nestled in a close-knit rural community, ready to investigate.
They’re in over their heads, but in very different ways than William could have anticipated. The hills are filled with creatures far more dangerous than any they’ve ever encountered, and their usual tactics aren’t working. On top of his renewed struggles with his addiction, William is left to fend for himself against the dead to protect not only the community, but the person in the world that’s most important to him.
Review: I’m going to cut straight to the chase: If you have ever worried that a sequel to a book you fell in love with couldn’t possibly live up to all that had come before it, you’ll understand how much I attempted to maintain realistic expectations of A Hymn in the Silence. This book, however, is utter perfection and not only solidified my love of James Spencer and William Esher, but it has propelled authors Kelley York and Rowan Altwood onto a very short list of authors whose work I will read, blurb unseen.
At the end of A Light Amongst Shadows, after the horrific events during James and William’s third year at Whisperwood School for Boys had been resolved but which had also left its share of scars as lifelong place markers for the terror that had unfolded there, York and Altwood led readers to an Epilogue which found James and William in a new home as well as on the cusp of a new income source. The fascination with spiritualism during the Victorian Era is a well-documented reality and serves as the foundation for our heroes to scrape out a living together, working for a medium who also happens to be the aunt of their former classmate Preston Alexander. When Mrs. Bennett offers James and William a new assignment, one for which they would be most handsomely rewarded if successful, it presents several conflicts, not the least of which includes they aren’t detectives and, secondly, this will be a test of William’s commitment to this line of work, if not his commitment to James as well. But, money often speaks volumes and is the ultimate temptress, especially when it’s scarce, so into the fray they jump.
One of the singular highlights of York and Altwood’s collaboration on this series is their ability to draw every scene, whether it be terrifying or sedate or romantic, in such a way that one can’t help but be drawn into the story visually or emotionally, or both, simultaneously. Their work is clever, intricate, and detailed, though never in a way that reads as anything but fast paced and purely entertaining. And if one happens to learn something along the way, well, we are all the more enriched for the experience. Not to be outdone, however, is their gift for characterization and the seemingly effortless ability to draw their readers into the lives of the people who populate this series. James and William are flawed and each come from families that are the direct cause of the challenges they work to overcome, and I appreciate that the authors avoided the handy love-conquers-all fix to the personal issues they face. James and William still each battle their own proverbial demons but rather than weakening them, it only serves to illustrate their strength and courage and will to survive, especially in the face of William’s addiction to laudanum and the additional temptation of alcohol to further help him cope.
As this story unfolds on a quiet estate in a pastoral village, the horrors that are exposed are brilliant and chilling. The disappearance of two townspeople coupled with the inexplicable murder of a family, young children included, becomes fertile ground for the authors’ imagination, the motive and means of the crime being ghastly and chilling. There are many heart pounding moments during this investigation filled with ghosts and demons and the walking dead, which tested James’ and William’s resolve and skills as well as their relationship. They are single-hearted, without question, but there are also insecurities that continue to weigh on them. In this novel, we see events through William’s eyes, we learn more about his addiction and a childhood that continues to haunt him, and it only made me love him all the more.
The success that York and Altwood achieved in leading their readers into this novel at the end of Book One is once again accomplished in A Hymn of Silence when Preston takes over the narration. What at first might seem a puzzling narrative transition instead becomes a thoroughly enticing lead-in to the next adventure in the series, when Preston volunteers to carry out a job for his aunt and also offers up some significant news about Benjamin Pritchard—the man Preston happens to have feelings for which go far deeper than mere friendship. There is more danger ahead and more mystery and mayhem as well, as is guaranteed by certain events which I won’t mention but will say have paved a clear way towards the overall arc of the series.
You can buy A Hymn in the Silence here:
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