Whispers from the Shadows is the second novel in Roseanna M. White’s Culper Spy Ring series.
The story opens some 35 years after the Revolutionary War. England and the United States are once again battling each other, this time in the War of 1812.
So Gwyneth Fairchild can’t understand why her father is sending her away from England to America, to his old friends, the Lanes. How can crossing a sea filled with pirates and combatants be safer than England?
But her father is insistent. As they’ve said their good-byes, Gwyneth turns to the carriage and her guardians. But she runs back to ask her father one last thing—only to witness his murder. His last whisper as he sees her is, “Run.”
So Gwyneth runs. On the two-month long voyage, she can’t sleep more than two hours at a time. Seasickness, insomnia, and sorrow reduce her health and well-being to frightening levels. For some reason, she does not tell her guardians what happened.
When their vessel is overtaken by American privateers, they are delivered to Thaddeus Lane in Baltimore, the son of Winter and Bennet. Thankfully Thad’s parents are there when Gwyneth arrives.
Gwyneth slowly recovers from her ordeal, but still tells no one what happened to her father. Everyone suspects that her state is due to more than severe seasickness. Gwyneth takes refuge in drawing, and somehow Thad discerns that she has faced some kind of severe trauma.
On the surface, Thad is a merchant who knows almost everyone in Baltimore. Secretly, he’s a key member of the revived Culper Ring.
As Gwyneth and Thad discover each other’s secrets, the British invasion increases. In the midst of it all, Gwyneth can’t help but wonder if her father’s murderer will come after her, too.
I loved this book on so many levels. It was fun that Winter and Bennet from the first book were such a big part of this one as well. I enjoyed Gwyneth and Thad, their personalities and journey and especially Gwyneth’s growth. I loved Thad’s kind but non-nonsense cook, Rosie, who was a niece of Freeman from the first book.
There was also so much edge-of-your-seat intrigue.
I don’t know if I have ever read another book set during the War of 1812. So many write WWII novels, which is fine—I loved Roseanna’s books set then. But it’s nice to learn about other eras as well.
Wikipedia only details the Culper Ring activity through the Revolutionary War. Roseanna shared in her afterword of the first book that a CIA member said in an interview that “The Culper Ring may or may not still exist.” It’s fun it imagine that they continued on behind the scenes for so many years.
The next novel is set during the Civil War, and one more novella comes before. I am looking forward to them.