Island of Whispers – A Review

Inchgarvie, a place of ghosts, demons and eerie whispering winds.

by Brendan Gisby

Available on Amazon U.S. and Amazon U.K.


“Standing on his hindquarters in the centre of the platform among the half-eaten corpses of the Rulers, Slasher rallied the latter defenders….Slasher had claimed the throne. he was their undisputed King-rat now.”

How apt that this allegory of race, class, and a latter-day feudal society -plays out in the deep dark recesses of a long-ruined medieval monastery, the kind one can see all over Ireland and Scotland.

The hierarchy of power which was prevalent in the feudalism of the Middle Ages also applied to the monasteries.

Just as the monks answered to the dean who answered to the prior who answered to the abbot…who answered to a bishop, the anthropomorphic rats ultimately answered to the Rulers, the Chamberlain, the Assembly, the King. The Watchers, Scavengers, Protectors and others all had their preordained roles from which they could not deviate.

Rats could become both powerful and successful breeders – if only they were born into the right caste until one cataclysmic day when the inexorable urge to be free coincided with a centenary celebration of the cantilever railway bridge over the Firth of Forth (don’t you love that phrase?)

A chance event altered those grim expectations of the Watcher caste. Rising unfulfilled expectations have led more than once to human revolutions. In this book, rats like humans break the surly bonds of their oppressors.

Long Snout, Neck Snapper, Bone Cruncher, Fat One, Twisted Foot, Grey Eyes all have their unique personalities. I was reminded a bit of the Homeric poems in the epithets applied.

There was murder, mayhem, cruelty – not the sort of subjects I would usually choose for recreational reading, but the story telling is so masterful, and the language so good, that I kept reading straight through. This is the kind of storytelling one gets only in Ireland and Scotland.

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One Response to Island of Whispers – A Review

  1. I am no keener on Rattus Rattus than you are, LiteraryLeila, so find it hard to imagine Brendan Gisby wanting to stay the distance with his characters. But then I got to this sentence, which did succeed in putting Island of Whispers of my list:

    ‘This is the kind of storytelling one gets only in Ireland and Scotland.’

    … and of course I’m curious about exactly what you mean. Why is this sort of tale quintessentially Irish or Scottish? … Would you have time to write a post on that subject?

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