My thanks to Booktasters for a review copy of this book.

The first of a series of children’s/middle-grade fantasy books, the Guardian of Whispers by B. E. Padgett might have hints of Harry Potter but still makes for a very creative and enjoyable adventure. We are introduced to the Reed family, five children—Eugene, the twins Jonathan and Franklin, Peter and Clara—who live with their parents, Harvey a doctor and Cecelia, a policewoman, as well as Cece’s great aunt Gladys who looks after them all. One evening after a bit of mischief from the twins, a strange visitor, Dr Harrison turns up to dinner, and wishes to ‘examine’ the twins, something that ought to have been done some months ago when they were nine and a half.  While they put off Dr Harrison at the time, soon it emerges that both boys are ‘gifted’, Franklin with the power of telepathy, and Jonathan with the power of prophecy. It seems that their mother is so too (an empath). The boys are now to be sent to a special school for the gifted at West Hills in Washington (also their mother’s alma mater) where aside from normal schooling they will be taught to hone and control their gifts.  

The boys start to settle in to the school and make a few friends, but Jon is full of doubts and frustration as people with his gift are few (in fact none at the school at that point) and he is unsure of the teacher who’s been appointed for him. Jon has a bit of a temper and always stands up for Frank as a result of which he gets into a fair bit of trouble on a couple of occasions. And also as a consequence, when a powerful artifact with which Jon’s gifts teacher, Mr McClery was training him is stolen and some evidence planted in his house, Jon of course is prime suspect while Frank and their other friends Damien and Nate are also placed under special restrictions. Now with few but their friends believing in Jon’s innocence and under strict surveillance the children must work together (Mr McClery helping, of course) to find out who stole the Guardian of Whispers.

The Guardian of Whispers was a fast-paced, imaginative and fun story which pulled me in from the start and had me reading all through. While the broad plot is indeed like Harry Potter or any magical school story in terms of children discovering their special powers and being sent to a special school where adventure and danger befalls them, within this frame it does have its innovations and is certainly told in a very enjoyable way.

For one, different students have different gifts, ranging from telepathy to emphathy to telekinesis and psychic abilities, as also rare ones like Jon’s oracular skills. There is no ‘magic’ or wands but these skills are practiced and honed, and without being taught to control them, the children may get into trouble. Unlike the usual brand of magical stories, the children here discover their skills at nine and a half (not the typical eleven).

Likewise, the adventure in terms of an incident taking place at school (theft of a powerful item) might scream of Harry Potter but within that broad plot, the author’s done a great job with how things play out, giving us an entertaining story. The mystery related to the theft isn’t entirely simple—in fact it has more than one layer which added to the enjoyment. And while it may be case solved for this one, there’s room left open for the next adventure too!

We also have a very likeable set of characters—in the children and their family, as well as other students they befriend at school. There’s Nate and Damien who are in their house and also Mira who is psychic. Houses are named after the twelve zodiac signs. Games are of course played, and all familiar ones, but students might use their ‘gifts’ for a bit of advantage.

Besides the adventure and fantasy elements, the author’s love of her home state, Washington also shines though in the book—the weather in comparison with Florida where the twins come from might take some adjusting to (and understandably they turn down an invitation to visit a friend in Alaska😊), but they also experience daylight at 9 pm.

All-in-all a book I liked very much indeed, and the sequel to which I’m definitely looking forward to reading.

4.25 stars


8 thoughts on “Book Review: The Guardian of Whispers (2023) by B. E. Padgett

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