Shadowhall Academy: The Whispering Walls has all the spine-tingling hallmarks I’ve come to expect from a Phil Hickes novel. It’s packed with fantastic friendships, moments of ringing tension, jump scares, and prose that’s so buttery smooth the pages practically turn themselves.
But don’t stray too far from the big light switch as you follow Lilian’s story and the uncanny goings on at her girls’ boarding school.
Shadowhall Academy has a past that won’t stay buried, and neither will Mary Atkins, a student who was found dead in the very walls of the school. But that very same student has something to share from beyond the grave that may just save the lives of Lilian and her new roommates – Marian, Serena and Angela – if they are brave enough to pay attention to the whispers.
But the ghost of Mary Atkins is only the beginning of this haunting mystery, one that orderly, organised Lilian is determined to get to the bottom of.
Digging deeper into Shadowhall’s history, Lilian learns other girls also met their deaths in mysterious ways there and becomes convinced understanding the past is the only way to stop it happening again in the future, especially when she fears for the safety of her new friends.
I loved reading the interplay of these very different female characters, and watching the tentative friendships grow and solidify into something strong enough to defeat the evil force threatening the safety of the boarders. I was also particularly happy to see 80s music culture and biscuits aplenty in the novel.
Check out Keith Robinson’s gorgeous cover art for the spooky book vibes and head to the illustrator’s website for some intriguing behind-the-scenes processes.
The school setting is a brilliant backdrop for this haunting mystery with its quirky architecture and even quirkier teachers. Fortunately, I believe Shadowhall has even more ghoulish secrets to uncover and I, for one, cannot wait to read about them.