Don’t judge this book by its name and its cover – what looks like it’s going to be a spooky ghost story about a little girl who hears voices or talks backwards, quickly evolves into a wonderful self-contained gothic monster mash-up, reimagining vampires and werewolves as part of the same viral infection and drawing the reader into a war between monsters and humanity. OK, so there are voices – you couldn’t call it Whispers in the Walls without them – but it doesn’t end up playing out in the way you might expect.
Spread over three perfectly-balanced chapters, the plot is wrapped around a fantastical voyage of discovery, as an orphan girl uncovers the lies and deceits that surround her parents’ deaths and her current incarceration the hospital laboratory of an eerie mountain-top castle. Written by Spanish film director David Muñoz, it has that wonderful blend of Hollywood polish mixed with European artistry that epitomises the continental commitment to art over commerce.
To top it off, the book is beautifully illustrated by Tirso, again blending the dynamism and characterisation of manga with an attention to mood and detail that transcends the sum of his influences.
To pigeon-hole it as a horror book is perhaps doing it a disservice – there’s plenty of spooky business and it’s moderately scary, but it’s also got a rich vein of fantasy running through it, and there’s a whiff of science fiction in there, too. Wonderful stuff.