Book Review: The Voices

The Voices by F.R. Tallis

In the scorching summer of 1976 – the hottest since records began – Christopher Norton, his wife Laura and their young daughter Faye settle into their new home in north London. The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices. 

I always try to broaden my reading ventures. My horror and supernatural thriller shelf is still understocked, I like watching horror movies and the like but just haven't found the right books. Yet. When I read the synopsis of The Voices I wanted to give it a try, being new to the genre and to the author I just let it surprise me. And I have to admit what a surprise it was, in the good way! The Voices is a story that will produce goosebumps on the of your neck. I looked up F.R. Tallis and soon learned that he has a degree in clinical psychology, he knows just what to write to scare the you. It's not written in a direct manner or with a lot of gory details instead F.R. Tallis creates a slow burning story that step by step reveal just a bit more until finally... something horrific happens, you might say well I saw that coming, but I was so engaged in the story that when I read the last page... wow... creepy and terrifying at the same time. 

The Voices starts of when Christopher Norton and his wife Laura move into a new house located in the north of London, in Hampstead. They had discussed several other houses and frankly Laura found the renovation costs for this particular house to high by Christopher convinced her to do it anyway. However when Laura first steps into their new house she gets this spooky feeling, something just doesn't feel right in the house. At first she just discards this and Christopher tells it's just the newness of the moving. But when strange things keep on happening one after the other and Laura starts to see people, she becomes more and more terrified. Not only for herself and Christopher but also for their younger daughter Faye... especially the sounds that come through the baby monitor that are not from Faye deeply disturb her. After the first unexplainable occurrences become more frequent, it will be never the same again for Christopher and Laura, their relation is also put under a lot of strain and Christopher starts to wonder if this is really the life that he wants to lead with Laura. I have to say that I was impressed with the total story that F.R. Tallis managed to put down. Along the way Christopher does start to put one and one together and finds out that a magician used to live in their house, a magician that used children for his disappearance tricks... From the synopsis you only expect a supernatural horror story but he tackles much more subjects in The Voices, some that surprised me but worked well on the whole scope of the story, as most of the elements are all action-reaction towards what happens in their haunted house. 

As for the characters of The Voices. The main ones are Christopher and Laura that you follow. Firstly; Christopher works as an music composer for various films and his latest job involves him for an Alien movie. One of the funniest things I read about was the Star Wars job that he didnt do because even the actors didn't seem to like the script... well we all know how that turned out... Anyway back to Christopher. He makes his soundtracks on his attic and his first encounter happens when he plays back a tape and hears strange voices. They start to talk and relate messages to him. Christopher discards this as a fluke in the recording but they keep on turning up and later his friend suggests that they might be the voices of the dead... We can all guess the direction this will take. Secondly you have Laura, she can be considered a bit of a price to Christopher, she is younger and had a career as a model before she got pregnant of Faye. I liked how Laura start to react first to a troubled sighting and later to the rollercoaster of events that started to unfold. The relation starts to become very strenuous and something dire does happen that I didn't see coming at all. 

Both the combination of the slow build up of tension and the diverse character interaction really made this story grip me from the start. You can read it casually step by step, but when you delve deeper and deeper you just want to find out what happens next to both Laura and Christopher. F.R. Tallis knows just how to capture your attention and keep it at the right place. His writing style is clear and to the point, but doesn't let you miss out on any details that make his world so hauntingly creepy. There might be some more ordinary tropes that you see in supernatural horrors but F.R. Tallis weaves them into a terrifyingly story. 

I am very pleased to add The Voices to my horror/thriller venture. F.R. Tallis shows that he has great skill in writing a creepy and atmospheric story. I don't have that much experience in this genre yet but what I have read so far I can safely say that The Voices is one book that will stick with you for a while. Near the ending of the book everything is thrown into a rapid until in the final pages of the book you are wowed by what F.R. Tallis reveals. Did he really just write that, yes he did! It really produces a terrifyingly vision of all that had happened in the past. If you are in for an engaging and terrifying read, look no further and pick up this book, dont trust every sound that comes over the baby monitor... you are warned...

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