What if instead of a robed figure awaiting at the foot of your bed death was more like a fox hunt. This is the basic and slightly spoilery plot of Seven Whistlers. A short novella from writer Christopher Golden and Willow’s girlfriend Amber Benson.
First of don’t let either of their more famous work fool you as this is one of the most low key fantasy stories I’ve read in a long time, even if it does build up to the potential end of the world. This is perhaps the big thing I can see making or breaking this story for someone as the whole thing feels like something told in a crystal and incense store which is fitting as it may just be. At least in very broad terms and I’m talking here about the basis for the myth not the events in the book. The whole thing begins with the death of Rose’s grandfather and before she knows it dogs as large as cars are stalking into the town from the woods bringing with them bad luck and a strange case of ghostly white wildlife which is never really explained.
Rose is driven off from grieving by her grandmother and her overbearing demeanour and over bearing personality. Retreating to her parent’s cabin in the wood with her lab Lucy, Rose witnesses the first appearance of these things as they strike and kill a glowing white stag. From here they head into town causing mayhem for many, including Ray Winstone which may explain his role in Noah. However it turns out that burning coffee pots and collapsing tree houses could be the least of the problems facing Rose as she learns that should these seven shapes gather together the world may end. It is up to Rose as our apparent protagonist to figure out what has drawn them here and hopefully how to get them to leave. Her own collection of Scoobies may not be much help with two being a couple prone to very public displays of affection and Mike who carries an ever burning torch for Rose but fears ruining their friendship by doing anything. However at only a hundred and some odd pages the book doesn’t get to spend much time with them without grinding the whole story to a seeming halt.
As I said before this is a low key book drawing upon the black dog legend of England that most would recognize from the basis for Sirius Black and the even more obscure ‘Whistlers’ themselves who like the black dog and every other ancient myth from the land of Black Pudding and ‘The Office’ talks of death and despair. There is no major comic book style dialogue nor any really tense fights or flights as the book leans toward the realist. Now I appreciated this as it meant it avoided the temptation a few scary stories and the like have done in the past and over egg the pudding laying it on too thick until the willing suspension is broken like the skin on the accompanying custard but for me personally the book could have done with some chocolate pieces or whipped cream at the least, a fact that’s not helped by some of the writing itself that comes across as stilted and forced like a moon rising like a peach. None of the characters felt two dimensional at least even if you don’t get to spend as much time with some of them as you would like nor care overly for many of them by the end Though one or two shine through and one could be pushing for a spin off tale but that’s just my opinion, though I dare not say who or why for fear of the great seven spoiler beasts joining together and ending my blog.
The book is currently two quid and a bit on amazon and I’m not sure I’d go for that, though it’s currently free if you’re on prime and that’s nothing to whistle at. You do know how to whistle don’t you……