First published back in July of 2015, ‘Voices’ formed the final instalment into British horror author Michael Bray’s supernatural horror ‘Whisper Trilogy’.

DLS Synopsis:
Following the massacre at the grand opening of Hope House Hotel, the army is brought in to investigate the cause of the tragic madness that saw the slaughter of so many innocent lives. However, after learning that the clean-up crew found a wooden hatch hidden away in the burnt remains of the Hope House pantry,  Detective Alex Petrov decides to take a quick look into the underground chamber that the hatch concealed, before the military and government officials arrive.  What Petrov discovers in the gloomy passageways is enough to send him desperately clawing to get back up to the surface.

The military send in a GT16 drone to explore the darkened chambers under the hotel.  The drone reveals gloomy corridors leading to large earthen-walled chambers.  And as the drone cuts through the darkness with its camera-mounted light, it reveals an image that will haunt those witnessing the live-feed for years to come.

Countless piles of human bones everywhere.  This was a place of death.

After discovering the chamber the government decide to shut down and quarantine the entire town of Oakwell.  Ever since then it has remained abandoned.  The forest gradually reclaiming the once sleepy town’s buildings and walkways.

Meanwhile, seven-year-old Isaac Samson had been placed into short-term care until his mother, Melody, was in a better position to provide the care and stability he needed.  But after the death of her husband, losing her only son was enough to tear Melody’s whole world apart.

Three years later and Isaac is still under care and living with his sixth adoptive family.  Over the years he’d become convinced that nobody wanted or loved him…let alone his own mother who he’d since come to believe had abandoned him.  Furthermore, Isaac was still troubled by persistent night terrors.  His dreams haunted by vague and harrowing memories of a bad man from his past.

That man was Henry Marshall.  Having been locked away in Creasefield Mental Asylum since his arrest, Henry had become a monster in memory alone for Isaac Samson. But the time had come for Henry to break free of those that held him back.  He had a destiny to fulfil.  The time had come to leave Creasefield and return once again to Oakfield.

There will be blood and there will be sacrifices.  The Gogoku demand it.  And so does the age old evil that awaits them all…

DLS Review:
I’m going to cut to the chase – Michael Bray has saved the absolute best for last with his final instalment.  ‘Whisper’ (2013) was a James Herbert-esque ‘haunted woods’ romp with a nicely-crafted chill-factor to it.  ‘Echoes’ (2014) strolled along a similar path, only reducing down the ‘horror’ to instead focus upon a slightly more tightly woven storyline.  With ‘Voices’ not only do you get all the creepy-ass thrills of the first book, alongside a well-executed storyline on a par with book two, but on top of this Bray has upped the ante with the gore, the tension, and the overall impact of every inch of the tale.

From start to finish the pacing is consistently clawing at your heels.  There’s plenty unravelling of secrets, unveiling of horrors, and unpredictable twists and turns to the course of the tale.  And all throughout this journey you’re accompanied by some incredibly well-established and lovingly fleshed-out characters.

Madness is a dominating theme within this final instalment. The character of Henry Marshall makes the psychotic nutjob that was Donovon seem like a rosy-cheeked Disney character.  There’s none of the man that was once Henry Marshall left.  Now there’s just a monster.  A cold eyed vengeance-fuelled maniac with no human conscious left.  And he’ll stop at nothing to appease the evil that pulls his strings.

However, by far and away the greatest strength within this final book is with how Bray has managed to capture and depict that unrelenting evil that resides within Oakwell Forest.  He’s created an atmosphere of almost palpable evil. It’s disturbingly oppressive.  And it seems to reverberate through the entire book.

Of course, everything in the book eventually leads back to Oakwell and that cursed clearing in the forest.  Along the way Bray lays down plenty of fast-paced action, inter-weaving a number of character-driven sub stories into the mix.  Melody Samson is now a broken woman – desperately missing her young son whilst she deals with depression and terminal illness.  Emma Barrett is on a mission to end whatever it is in Oakwell that transforms people into brutal, violent psychopaths.  Then you have thirty-six-year-old Detective Alex Petrov who’s become near-obsessed with getting to the bottom of the Oakwell massacre – even though he’s a stubborn nonbeliever.  Together, their lives once again converge upon Oakwell – where of course Marshall will be waiting.

As I stated at the very start of the review – Bray has really saved the best to last.  ‘Voices’ plucks all the strongest and darkest elements out from the first two books, allows them to mutate into something even more harrowing, and then built a final story out of them.  And it’s one which brings everything together exposing the true depth of the ancient evil lurking behind it all.

For his final instalment Bray has taken us into the unsettling wilderness of absolute insanity.  Here we witness the brutality of madness.  The bitterness of utter despair.  And a truly nightmarish vision of an ancient evil.

The novel runs for a total runs for a total of 318 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Whisper Trilogy’ instalments:

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