In Dark Whispers the Brightstorms’ journey is growing hotter with the weather & secret plans. Vashti Hardy has this time chartered a thrilling journey to tropical climes with a thrilling adventure filled with secrets, lies and the edge of the world.
The return to the world of the Brightstorm twins feels deeper and darker this time. The plot of Brightstorm was packed with intrigue, action and devious plans and whilst this is no different for the awesomeness lavished there, yet it feels a voice is ringing throughout the book asking readers to inspect and challenge their understanding of the world. Perhaps even political, and that is so delicious.
Famous explorer Ermitage Wrigglesworth has gone missing and the dastardly Eudora Vane of all people is arranging a large scale rescue mission.
Whilst doing their duty on Harriet Culpepper’s airship Aurora, the twins travel to tropical islands to look for the missing adventurer, with Maudie hitting her engineering stride with ambition and grit, and Arthur feeling a little lost in the expectations of others but something dark is lingering below the surface of this task.
What is Eudora Vane really up to, and what secrets are hiding?
the heat was blistering and sweat trickled the length of his spine, but that didn’t dampen the joyful feeling of freedom being atop this glorious creature. It travelled at a slow pace, and there was something calm and rhythmic in the way it moved… the scent of peppermint mixed with dry grass caught on the wind.
Savannah like plains to sandy tropical islands and heady humid jungles the sense of immersion in place is cinematic, Vashti has done an outstanding job of world building and the full sensory experience is just a delight to enjoy.
The beautiful whimsy remains, from what I happened to shout out loud in excitement (Bambicorns!!!) actually called ‘roamers’ in the book to underwater pod homes (sssh) it had a feel of the joyfulness of The Road to Eldorado meets the unfolding wonder of Journey to Atlantis.
“Its rich in pitch and has been mined to within an inch of itself.”… the island was stone grey and full of ramshackle buildings that looked as though they’d been put up temporarily only to become permanent
Alongside this sightseeing wonder and whimsy are strong undertones emphasising of the dark sides of colonialism with the pitch mines and islands stripped to the bone for resources taken away to Lontown, Vane’s omission of calling the continents by their agreed names instead the Lontown traditions and indeed this childhood quest for the Fourth Continent and how they could turn dark in the hands of the wrong grown ups.
Whilst Brightstorm asked children to consider what they would do should their family world fall apart, Dark Whispers continually nudges and asks us to take a good look and consider what kind of world we want to participate in or fight for whether that’s like Harriet using clean renewable energy sources or wanting equitable access to and participation in education and knowledge.
After an hour of trying he sighed and looked at Parthena “do you think Felicity will have me back in the kitchen?”
Arthur’s imposter syndrome is strong in this one, he really is the star of this one in my mind as he constantly feels inadequate; to Welby’s expectations and in turn Welby’s pride of Maudie, and his shame at his jealousy of his sister for having such a conviction and revelling in her strengths whilst Arthur barely knows what his are.
Like with many people struggling with their self image us readers on the outside can see Arthur’s worth and even perhaps the ways that Arthur clouds his perceptions of himself and we can only hope that Arthur will catch up with the rest of us who love and value him dearly and see his new tasks in Dark Whispers campaign to be a sign of others trust in him to be more important on the airship, not actually devaluing of his kitchen skills!!!
He looked ahead; he was lined up with the prow, the Wide laid out before him. He had the ability to go anywhere. it was so vast, so astonishing, so full of possibility
Overall, I am left full of joy and wonder and equally excited to see what comes next for these children, with such a bold ending one is left to ponder will there be more and how will Vashti Hardy top this excitement, I know for sure if there is another outing, I will be waiting ticket in hand to board the airship Aurora ready and willing to be carried off to further adventures.
DarkWhispers: A Brightstorm Adventure by Vashti Hardy is published by Scholastic