For some time, I’ve been wanting to read and review Owen Clough’s first book, Whispers of the Past. Finally, thankfully, the opportunity presented itself. And what a treat. Like the title, the turned pages whispered a fascinating tale.
Set in New Zealand, Whispers incorporates historical fiction, time travel, a little fantasy and a lot of adventure with stupendous results. The exciting story begins with three young mates—Bob (Brill), Shane (Grunt), and Samuel (Sam)—engaging in a “tramp” into Tongariro National Park to cull feral pigs, not the easiest [or most pleasant] of tasks.
An odd bout of weather propels the trio to the Waikato War of 1863, including the Battle of Rangiriri, a major engagement in the invasion of Waikato. Skirmishes occur, as do trials and tribulations, which add to the action and emotion. Along the path to finding a way back . . . without altering history . . . the threesome encounter intriguing individuals, some who turn out to be ancestors.
The narration sounds everyday, natural with local vernacular, which makes for a fairly smooth read. The characters are strong, believable, and very likable. Physical descriptions and historical details enhance the read even more. Owen has a knack for providing particulars—with enthralling twists and turns—that make you want to continue flipping pages: you just have to know what happens next. And while you’re following the exciting adventures of Brill, Grunt and Sam, you learn a few things about New Zealand and the Māori.
The New Zealand War, by the by, was a succession of armed struggles that occurred from 1845 through 1872; on one side were the Colonial government and the allied Māori, and on the other side were the Māori and Māori-allied settlers. And for those unfamiliar with the Māori, they’re indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand who arrived from eastern Polynesia in several waves of waka (a Māori canoe made of tree trunk) voyages in the early 14th century.
Entertainment and knowledge do make for great bedfellows.
I’d love to tell you that all ends well for Brill, Grunt and Sam, that they get back to present day . . . but I can’t. You’ll have to read this engaging book to find out.
The editor in me can only give this a 4.5 due to typos and punctuation flaws. Without those, it’s an easy 5 out of 5.
And what about the author, Owen Clough? His bio lists him as a keen genealogist, motor caravanner, and rugby fanatic with a love of history. You can check him out at: https://www.owencloughbooks.com.
Having always wondered what it would be like to live back in the turbulent times of New Zealand’s history, Owen wrote Whispers of the Past with this in mind. The second book is Shadows of the Mind . . . the third, Clearing of the Mist.
Kia ora (be safe).