Dreams of Beautiful Whisper by Tanya Jones is about Amanda, a young girl soon to turn 16 (along with all the trials and tribulations that that brings, like parents who do weird and embarrassing things). At least, that’s how it starts out but soon things change for Amanda. When her family suddenly up-sticks and move to a mysterious village, Amanda discovers that her real name is Amanae, that she is an elf, and that she has powers that she couldn’t even begin to imagine… (Oh, and as a side note: if you are somewhat irritated by the lack of the ‘a’ in the title as I was, the reasoning becomes apparent near the end of the book and once you understand, all will be forgiven!)
The beginning of this book is not great. The writing is loose and bland, as though the author hadn’t re-worked this section in her edits and re-writes. There are a few jumps between past and present tense that are irritating. The narrative jumps from scene to scene with no break or distinction (actually, this happens throughout the entire book – but you get used to it). The characters are weak and uninteresting – I really couldn’t care less about Amanda; even her name irritated me. My Kindle is riddled with comments for the first few chapters. Something must have sparkled through all that though, something buried deep in the back that shone through, because I stuck with it…and boy am I glad that I did!
Once the family move back to the village of their past, the story comes alive. Suddenly there is light and colour and sparkle and thejuxtaposition between this and the first part of the book reminded me of The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy left the drab, grey Kansas and landed in technicoloured Oz. I went from wishing that something would happen in the story to being swept away by the pace of the action. I went from wishing that Amanda would fall down a drain to falling in love with Amanae. I went from being irritated by a name to adoring a name! I went from stopping every few minutes to note a comment to completely forgetting I was reading and being wholly immersed in the story. In fact, I didn’t make another note until right at the end of the book.
If this distinction between the first part of the book and remainder was an intentional way of showing the distinction between Amanda and Amanae, it’s a very clever technique – but it’s also a dangerous one. If you, as a reader, are stuck trying to get past the first few chapters of Dreams of Beautiful Whisper, stick at it – it will surprise you.
The story of Amanae is gripping and the concept of a young elf who doesn’t know she’s an elf, and who has to develop her Elvin skills in such a short amount of time, is a fascinating one. It’s a new and interesting way of writing about elves that kept me entertained throughout and although characterised as a ‘YA Romance’, for me, the romance is far from the best part of the book. Amanae as a character really comes out of herself, making this book as much a ‘coming of age’ tale as anything else and watching Amanae grow is heart-warming.
Speaking of the romance though, (and as most of you know, I hate romance), it’s done really well. It isn’t thrown in your face and is not sickly sweet – although the whole love triangle thing between Jordan, Amanae, and Caelsah, is a little strange to say the least. As a general hater of romance, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself rooting for Caelsah and Amanae.
No, this book is not without problems. You’ve got to stick with it to find the magic within, it’s at times jumpy and leaps through time with no notice, and the dialogue is sometimes stifled and not lifelike. I didn’t highlight any phrases for their beauty or smile at striking narrative, but actually, it doesn’t need any of that because of how deeply immersed in the story you become, and how much you begin to believe in Amanae, in Caelsah, in the village, as real people and places. And it left me with one overwhelming feeling that will tell you all you need to know: I was desperate to start reading the second book in the series, and I’ve struggled to start reading anything else since as I miss Amanae already. Alas…
Oh, and mum, if you’re reading this, I am ready. You can reveal my true elvin nature whenever you want.