A family curse, a long-forgotten crime to be unearthed: The Murmurs by Michael J. Malone #bookreview #TheMurmurs

A young woman starts experiencing terrifying premonitions of people dying, as it becomes clear that a family curse known only as ‘the murmurs’ has begun, and a long-forgotten crime is about to be unearthed…
On the first morning of her new job at Heartfield House, a care home for the elderly, Annie Jackson wakens from a terrifying dream. And when she arrives at the home, she knows that the first old man she meets is going to die.
How she knows this is a terrifying mystery, but it is the start of horrifying premonitions … a rekindling of the curse that has trickled through generations of women in her family – a wicked gift known only as ‘the murmurs’…
With its reappearance comes an old, forgotten fear that is about to grip Annie Jackson.
And this time, it will never let go…
A compulsive gothic thriller and a spellbinding supernatural mystery about secrets and small communities, about faith, courage and self-preservation, The Murmurs is a startling and compulsive read from one of Scotland’s finest authors.


Hi and welcome to my review of The Murmurs!

A new Michael J. Malone novel is always cause for celebration, but The Murmurs sounded even more up my street than previous novels. Wildly enthusiastic I dove in and had The Murmurs tick all my boxes. I don’t think House of Spines will ever be knocked off its top spot in my Malone ranking, but The Murmurs sure comes close! 

The Murmurs is a rich tale that tells the story of Annie and her family. Annie survived a terrible accident as a child, which left her with severe memory loss and a bit of a lost feeling. Just as she embarks on a new chapter in her life, disorienting memories seep back in, as well as murmuring voices in her head, telling her a person is going to die. This shocking event opens a whole can of worms, and it sets Annie and her twin brother on a journey to discover their family secrets. Which are a whole lot darker than they ever would have thought.

The Murmurs has a dual timeline, told from the viewpoint of various characters. Interspersing these then and now threads are snippets from a memoir by one of Annie’s ancestors, which sheds light on the family curse that rears its ugly head in both timelines. I loved how very different pieces of the puzzle were provided and the complete picture was only clear at the end. It was thrilling to see it all come together. And while I did have a minor epiphany about midway through, in the end it turned out I was only half right.

I was desperate to read The Murmurs before my summer break, which did mean the timing wasn’t ideal and I was interrupted quite frequently. (You wouldn’t believe the daggers I shot every time I was forced to put my Kobo down!) Regardless of said interruptions, I was fully caught up in the story. I fell for the mystery in the opening chapters, and everything I read after just drew me in more.

The Murmurs has an immense sense of setting, set primarily in a small town in the Scottish Highlands. I do love reading about small town communities, even more so when there is some religious zealotry involved. It made for such atmospheric reading, even without the spooky and witchy bits.

While I loved reading The Murmurs in July, I’m already looking forward to revisiting it in the spooky season. A curse, a psychic ability, generations of witches, The Murmurs is the perfect Halloween read. If you like your thrillers on the mysterious side, with a bit of family drama and a supernatural angle, The Murmurs should be at the top of your list!

The Murmurs is out in digital formats and paperback on 14 September. Preorder it directly from Orenda Books here.

Massive thanks to Orenda Books for the digital proof. All opinions are my own.

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