The Whistling Review

By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno |

This review is spoiler-free.


Alone in the world, Elspeth Swansome has taken the position of nanny to a family on the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea. 

Her charge, Mary, is a strange child. Distracted and secretive, she hasn’t uttered a word since the sudden death of her twin, William – just days after their former nanny disappeared.

With her charge defiantly silent, Elspeth turns to the islanders. But no one will speak of what happened to William.

Just as no one can explain the hypnotic lullabies sung in empty corridors.

Nor the strange dolls that appear in abandoned rooms. Nor the faint whistling that comes in the night….

But is this house haunted by the ghosts of the past? Or the secrets of the living?

For me, The Whistling ticked so many of the boxes that I look for in this type of classic horror story, from a determined and complex heroine to a multi-layered mystery where everything is not as it seems. Add in the isolated, untamed environment and an enigmatic child into the mix as well, then you have all the makings of a great story!

While the template of the story may feel a little familiar, there is something unique about The Whistling, and once you are drawn into the story, you’ll find it difficult to walk away! I loved the isolated setting and the collection of strange and secretive characters. There is a chilling mystery to unravel, and just when you think you have a handle on the direction of the story, something will occur that will flip the script completely and leave you wondering what will happen next! Who can be trusted? Is there more to supposed supernatural events than meets the eye? The layers of the story are incredible and really differentiate itself from other books in the genre.

In terms of the author, I’m very pleased to say that Rebecca Netley has created something that is both familiar and classical, yet also unique, with a story that hooks you right from the off and just continues to build as the tale unfolds. I finished The Whistling in two sittings, and to be honest if I had chosen to start this audiobook over a weekend, I could have easily completed it in one! The story, characters, and environment are all individually and collectively outstanding and there is certainly no filler or tangents here! It hooks you from the first minute to the last and this is achieved, not only by a great story and characters but the quality of the narration!

I have experienced Lois Chimimba in a previous Audible offering, Albion: The Legend of Arthur, in which I thought she was excellent. So going into The Whistling, I already had that reassurance that the performance would not let the story down – and it didn’t! Chimimba was the perfect casting choice for the story and her delivery and performance were exquisite!

Between Netley’s writing and Chimimba’s performance, The Whistling has that perfect combination that propels it right to the top of audiobooks that you need to experience! I cannot recommend this enough, I really can’t! This isn’t a ‘one time listen’ either, as I could easily find myself in the future going back to this audiobook at least once a year, especially during the cold, winter months when my real-world surroundings match that of the setting in the story – enhancing the experience even further!

The Whistling is an emotional and haunting tale packed full of chills and twists, all beautifully performed by a wonderful narrator. This atmospheric horror perfectly captures the sense of isolation and vulnerability, and you’ll find yourself unable to hit the pause button as this classic, yet unique, tale will keep you gripped right until the end!

The Whistling is available to listen, to right now, on Audible.

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