Voices by F R Tallis

A review by C J Dee
  • Page count: 374 [excluding sources and acknowledgments]
  • Format: ARC paperback
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5

It’s the summer of 1976 in London and it is sweltering. Christopher Norton has just moved into a brand new home with his wife Laura and baby daughter Faye. At first the family is happy in their new home but strange things begin to happen. Then come the voices. The voices of those who were but are no longer …

When I first read the blurb for this novel, I told Nalini it was a book that I needed in my life. I tell her this about most books that sound deliciously spooky, so I was thrilled when it arrived to be reviewed. My enthusiasm was well rewarded because The Voices downright gave me the heebie jeebies.

The Voices has a very interesting plot. Has the “family move into a new house and get harassed by spirits” thing been done? Of course it has. Does Tallis’s novel give it some chilling new twists? You betcha!

One of the things I loved about The Voices was the interesting plot twists the author has managed to entwine. Some of the routes Tallis takes his readers down were so unexpected that they caught me completely unaware.

What made The Voices even more enticing was the period it was set in, the 1970s. The 1970s are not so far removed from modern times to disassociate the reader but still leave the characters without the convenience of modern technology. Although in this case a mobile phone might just add to their problems as the spirits use electronic devices to communicate.

The time period also allows for other plot devices that simply wouldn’t be accepted as the norm in today’s society. Blatant and unabashed male chauvinism abounds in The Voices but not because the men are bad people, they are just products of their time. As a result, Laura won’t speak up about her concerns for fear of sounding hysterical and is meek in the face of an authority figure who infers that her concerns are all in her head. These points sound like they would detract from the quality of The Voices, but in fact they only add to it. As with the helplessness of not having modern technology during a crisis, not having anyone listen to or really acknowledge Laura’s concerns only adds to the suspense. I wanted the budding feminist to be more persistent throughout The Voices, to stand up for herself and her fears, but it just wasn’t in her.

The diversity of characters in The Voices was fascinating and impressive. Weaved throughout the ghost story are narratives on homosexuality, infidelity, mental illness, obsession and feminism. This is done in such a way that it comes together in harmony.

If you enjoy movies like The Conjuring, Paranormal Activity, or Poltergeist and want to read something with a similar vibe, I would recommend starting with The Voices