Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question

Fiction - Womens
316 Pages
Reviewed on 07/18/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography


Like Isabella we each have a unique life story. Mine begins in 1953, born to Serbian parents, growing up in a small town in northern Illinois. Looking back I realize as a child I often reflected on “what makes someone happy?”
Though the question remained unanswered for years, I continued searching for a secret map that would show me the way to happiness.

Professionally I followed a trail marked by change and growth through such diverse jobs as a correctional supervisor, a community organizer, a Fortune 500 business consultant, an advocate for survivors of gun violence and trauma, a creativity coach and most recently a psychotherapist in private practice.

Personally, I explored that question through education, spirituality, meditation, personal growth, creativity, nature, animals (I have two cats – Jillian and JoAnn, 40 fish, countless outdoor feathered friends, deer and creatures that snuffle in the night), family and friends.

Somewhere around my fortieth year clarity began. As I turned sixty, I found the answer to what makes me happy: kindness in all its infinite expressions.
For those readers who wish to join Isabella on her journey, she is available on
Linda Whittaker
June 2014

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite

Author Linda Whittaker interweaves this wonderful fantasy story with a modern tale of an unnamed woman who suffers a terrible head injury and slips into a coma. A victim of a dreadful assault, her mind goes into another reality that is filled with wonders and mystery. Isabella, a young village girl, embarks on a mysterious quest to the Lower Kingdom. Guided by a raven named Nightwalker, Isabella meets the king who instructs her to find a book that holds the key to the kingdom's fate. Magic, fear, and unforeseen twists and revelations are just some of the elements that elevate the intriguing facets of the story. This book takes readers to another state of perception regarding our inner strengths and our life’s journey.

I honestly enjoyed the metaphors and wisdom that this story has to offer. Whittaker’s flair for dialogue always hits the right notes, never sounding forced. Most of the cast are given a well-merited rounding out, giving each character a depth and compassion that bring about a true connection between the readers and each character. Of course the protagonist, Isabella, is the one who would evoke readers’ emotions the most. There was more depth here than I would have expected from the first few pages. I found myself drawn into the world that Whittaker created. I could picture this story as a wonderful, unique tale that would be amazing on the cinema screen, provided that it got the right director to make it happen. Simply put, Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question is a must-read.

Isabella and the Tale of

5.0 out of 5 stars Isabella .... a fresh, dark fairy tale, May 30, 2014
Maria R -
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This review is from: Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question (Kindle Edition)
Clever,… modern, yet timeless… - just some of the descriptions that ring out after reading Isabella. Linda Whittaker treats the reader to multiple, stand-alone story-lines each carrying their own life lessons, all artfully brought together, at the denouement, to deliver a powerful and satisfying punch when the intertwined fates of Isabella and the unnamed coma victim are finally revealed.

Isabella is the literary equivalent of the popular, dark cinematic fairy tales offering contrasting shades of light and darkness, good and evil. A recalcitrant and self-loathing 11 year old, Isabella faces her demons. Through self-forgiveness and love she emerges as our compassionate, fearless, young heroine. Protecting her through her terrifying journey of self-discovery where she faces a roiling river of blood, a swamp of darkness and a vicious predator is an endless cast of loving inhabitants of the Lower Kingdom - Nightwalker, the raven, Grandmother spider, two black and white wolves, owls, a flock of cardinals and ancient turtles. Guiding her through setbacks to ensure she ultimately makes the right choices of compassion over retribution are her inner circle of trusted counselors: Sir Alfred, esteemed advisor to King Stefan, Setine, Queen of Dreamtime and Kriya, the Queen Mother.

While Whittaker masterfully transports us with her eloquent descriptions of the mystical Lower Kingdom, with its thousand fairies, its rainbow staircase, and sleepless fireflies, I cannot help but wonder what a full-blown Disney production might make of a school of singing fish, the Cave of Mirrors, and the Swamp of Darkness to add even greater relevance and magic to this enchanting tale where love conquers evil.

Like any great book, I was sorry to say goodbye to these endearing characters. I miss them already!

Isabella and the Tale of

5.0 out of 5 stars Isabella, Courageous Explorer, May 21, 2014
Lois Lauer
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This review is from: Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question (Paperback)
Linda Whittaker has produced an amazing story, or to be more precise, an amazing story within a story. In the guise of a mysterious magical journey into the Lower Kingdom, Whittaker takes us on a journey into the inner realms of the self, where our heroine Isabella travels a path from self loathing to self confidence, from longing to joy, from brokenness to wholeness. Whittaker has brilliantly woven her own psychotherapeutic practices into her fairytale-like story. Isabella is encouraged to be curious about all the characters and happenings in the Lower Kingdom, just as Whittaker as a therapist encourages folks to be curious about their own feelings and patiently encourages taking creative small steps in new directions to explore new possibilities.

Tiny 11 year old Isabella is the perfect protagonist to show us how exhilarating and rewarding the journey can be, even if wrought with dangers, terrors, setbacks, villains, and yes, even a dragon! So many wonderful lessons are creatively and joyfully woven throughout the book. For example: it takes great courage to understand our emotions; all characters (all parts of ourselves) are good no matter how evil or troublesome or controlling they have become; we each write our own story as we journey on the path through life. Linda Whittaker has illuminated that path for all of us, with her compassionate, wonder-filled tale of brave Isabella, Explorer.

Isabella and the Tale of

5.0 out of 5 stars much like Hermann Hesse's classic Siddhartha, July 22, 2014
Susan Katz
This review is from: Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question (Paperback)
Powerfully written, Linda Whittaker's Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question leaves a strong impact on its reader, much like Hermann Hesse's classic Siddhartha. Both novels take its main character on a journey of personal growth and self-discovery. Readers, young and old, can relate to Isabella, the main character, because each of us encounters challenges and grapples with finding meaning, harmony, and purpose in our lives.

The author's creativity is present on each page as she weaves a storyline both in current time and in the Lower Kingdom. The present storyline is focused on a victim of an urban crime that has left this person hospitalized and in a coma. Family members gather by her bedside, hoping and praying for her to survive. Doctors are uncertain of her fate.

Whittaker carries the victim's spirit to the Lower Kingdom, portrayed as a fairytale. Like a painter uses his/her paint brush to create visual images on a canvas, the author giftedly sculpts words to create a Medieval time period that is mythological, terrorizing, and enchanting. Using prose that magically transforms the landscape, Whittaker takes the reader to a land where animals, birds, and trees have distinct personalities, helping to support Isabella on her journey. Ms. Whittaker creates unique and complex characters who fill our hearts and minds, staying with us long after the book is read.

Weaving the two worlds together, the author catapults Isabella into facing and overcoming her fears and conquering her insecurities. The now empowered Isabella humbly seeks answers to questions that finally offer her life-affirming values and bring peace and understanding to her life's journey.

A soul nurturing and inspiring book, Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question, needs to be read by everyone you love. I have already given five gifts and I'm ready to purchase my next five.

Isabella and the Tale of

5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Journey, June 17, 2014
Tanya Sugarman –
This review is from: Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question (Kindle Edition)
“Isabella” is a stunning work of fiction that operates on many levels simultaneously. It is a heroine’s journey through multiple adversities and obstacles in the tradition of brave yet self-doubting heroines like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” who
discover their essence while helping others. It is also a book that offers wisdom and layer upon layer of meaning, so that it can be enjoyed by nine year olds through adults on their personal odyssey to wisdom and self-revelation.

I used “Isabella” as a drama teacher with fourth graders who adored Isabella and identified with her bravery through many trials and her learnings. They pondered what the gifts were she received from her encounters, like her near death experience with the wolves and her entry into the Lower Kingdom. They acted out secret reasons that might keep Isabella from searching for the book and talked with their own inner critics. They loved and identified with so many parts of this amazing story! I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Tanya Sugarman
Educational Drama Specialist

Isabella and the Tale of

5.0 out of 5 stars A wild ride, June 11, 2014
Catherine Myers
Verified Purchase
This review is from: Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question (Paperback)
Forget about metaphor and allegory and take this wonderful trip into great meals and marvelous clothes! Isabella is an “altered state” traveler with an uncovered sense of curiosity and adventure.

The trip begins with gypsies, lightening, a boat on a river that speaks, and a sense that “I will die if I do not go” mixed with “I’m going to die …!” But the journey Isabella takes includes a copper satin sheath topped by a purple silken coat with amethyst buttons. With copper slippers to match. Later, she eats strawberries and cream from a diamond studded crystal bowl and drinks orange nectar from the golden emerald studded goblet. You’ll have to read the story to learn more about the wool felt tunic with soft leather belt.

There is humor too, in this "fantasia" of the imagination: chanting fish move in chorus lines through the lake, losing the color in their scales as they sing "so confused, confused...," turning red as they shout "no, Isabella, no!" and regainng their blazing salmon colors to cheer her on.

Along the way, Isabella gains the courage to ask all the questions she longs to know answers for; the strange thing is, they are all the same questions I would have asked. Indeed, I had asked them in my mind before she spoke them aloud. And then they led to my own interior questions.
This is a story that stayed with me long after Isabella’s wild ride was completed. An amazing ride and an engrossing read. I missed Isabella and her companions immediately after I closed the book.

Isabella and the Tale of

5.0 out of 5 stars THE UNANSWERED QUESTION, July 5, 2014
Lawrence A. Szymanski
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This review is from: Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question (Paperback)
I enjoy reading fantasy that makes me think and wonder and anticipate what will happen next. The author took me on a journey - both fantasy and reality - where I could see the vibrant colors, taste the morsels, smell the deep deep woods and the creepy underworld and feel what Isabella was feeling from time to time. It took a bit for me to get deeply invested because I kept getting pulled away (reality, you know) but once I had time to myself, I couldn't put Isabella down.

Things were tangled and confusing, sometimes sad, often joyous and Ms. Whittaker presented the written word so deftly and beautifully that I felt like things might be all right after all. We all have an unanswered question and if we ponder long enough, we can either name it or answer it. Isabella did both. She is my hero.

Christine Nguyen

Isabella And The Tale Of The Unanswered Question is a truly magical novel for all ages. It’s about Isabella, a shy young girl from the Ordinary World who has a monotonous life of work, day in and day out, until something scary and unexpected happens to her. She is whisked away to the Lower World by a series of fun, compelling, unique characters like Nightwalker, a raven with a star in the middle of his forehead – he is also a royal messenger and the guardian of magic - and Sir Alfred Gielgud, who is the esteemed advisor to His Royal Highness King Stefan. Sir Alfred gives young Isabella the Curiosa, a ruby pendant that gives her the power to ask any questions she wants for in this new, strange world, questions are not forbidden like in the Ordinary World, but are the answers to life itself. People can read minds in this wonderful world. Isabella has been taught all her life she is a “girl-child” and is not to be heard or to ask questions, but to obey and know her low station in life. Soon, with the help of her new friends, Isabella blooms and starts a breath-taking journey of her own that will make her reach inside herself to face her deepest fears, her demons, and to find the courage to find herself and her place in life.

Author Linda Whittaker is a magical storyteller who knows how to lure readers into her imagination of the Lower Kingdom. I was enchanted and enthralled from the very beginning of the book. I got sucked into the tale and couldn’t put the book down. I had tears in my eyes because Whittaker knows how to reach readers’ emotions. This book is reminiscent of many adventurous stories from my childhood and evoked happy memories of how young people are so innocent. Whittaker effortlessly and seamlessly writes an excellent tale of adventure while, at the same time, teaching readers many life lessons such as love, courage, self esteem, and other essential trials in each person’s life. Reading this book touched many parts of me intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually – not many books have that power to move a person on so many levels. I was a little lost in my direction in life, but after reading about Isabella, it inspired and uplifted me. I would implore everyone who loves reading about magic and happiness to read this EXCELLENT book that will make you look at the world with magical eyes!

Tania Staley

Linda Whittaker’s novel, Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question, is a delightful adventure through a surreal new land. Page one immerses the reader immediately in the action. Hardly able to be called delightful, this opening page introduces the reader to an unnamed female who has been the victim of an accident, almost claiming her life. However, with the turn of the page readers learn of a young girl who may very well be destined for greatness; this is where the story takes a surprising turn. This young girl’s name is Isabella. She is the daughter of peasants in a small forgotten village. She does her chores, knows her place, and tries to do as she is told. She had been warned that to venture into the woods is dangerous, and that if she ever saw the gypsies that lived there, she should run home as quickly as she could. One day, Isabella comes across a band of gypsies, and she is drawn to their laughter and the freedom they seem to have. Longing to have a life different from the one she has, she steps into the camp of the gypsies. This single act starts her on the path to the kingdom of the Lower World, a world of enchantment and strange new wonders, and a world where it has been foretold that she could be the one to save the kingdom. And so, it is these two stories, the woman fighting for her life and the girl hoping to have a new life, which Whittaker weaves together in this entertaining and thought-provoking tale.

Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question is the type of literary journey that I long to take. Reminiscent of the whimsy of tales such Alice in Wonderland, Whittaker’s novel is a dreamy fairy tale that forces the reader to question their own perceptions of the world. Her tale is a page turner from start to finish, and I believe many readers, me included, will find it hard to put down. Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question has made me a fan of Linda Whittaker. I highly recommend this novel to any who have dreamed of escaping to another realm. I will definitely be seeking out more to read from this fascinating author.

Suzanne Cowles

Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question by Linda Whittaker is one of those novels that starts out with real promise and surprises the reader by ending up as so much more. A seemingly children’s story about a fantasy Lower Kingdom where animals speak to an eleven-year-old girl is transformed into a type of Purgatory where the soul must work out unfinished business. The themes are original and very adult, forcing the reader to think about life and its many challenges. Paralleled with the vastness of the Lower Kingdom, a concurrent story on Earth follows a woman who lies in a coma from an assault. Her spirit is in Isabella. The vivid contrast between reality and fiction is stunning in a well-written narrative. The journey begins on a river that turns to blood, but Isabella is helped by Nightwalker the Raven. Her quest to save the Kingdom by locating a unique book is wrought with self-reflection, difficult choices and personal discovery.

Linda Whittaker has mastered the art of prose in a rich land filled with colorful characters and well-paced action, yet there is a hint of true to life scariness that makes the whole story believable. I found Isabella’s low self-esteem to be common in many people and her genuine character flaw made me cheer for her, but there is a happy and satisfying ending to Isabella’s story, which is only a new beginning. Out of difficult situations, people thrive or shrink. Isabella faces her demons with courage and finds the answers to her questions in an enchanting tale. Linda Whittaker explores her own life experiences in Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question with wit, whimsy and a mystical story that fills the reader’s heart with spectacular awe.

Faridah Nassozi

In Isabella and the Tale of The Unanswered Question by Linda Whittaker, 11-year-old Isabella had been raised to obey the elders no matter what, to never ask questions or desire anything beyond what she had. However, her heart yearned for more. As she went through her monotonous routines day after day, she felt a power pulling at her heart, making her wonder if there was something better for her out there beyond her village. Then one day, while in the forest, a raven spoke to her and sent her on a journey whose purpose or destination was not revealed. After days of a very challenging journey on the river, Isabella finally reached the kingdom of the Lower World. In this kingdom, everything was so different and the entire kingdom lived as one; trees, rivers, birds and animals, and everything else was able to communicate. In this place, all the rules and grooming she had been raised with did not apply. However, apparently it was the place that held all her hopes and desires, and the answers to all her questions. From the look of things, the kingdom was in big trouble and its future was in her tiny hands. Time was running out fast, but what could a timid 11-year-old do to help the great king.

Every once in a while, you read a novel that is so good and compelling that you are bound to remember the story forever. Isabella and the Tale of The Unanswered Question by Linda Whittaker is that kind of novel. It combines everything that makes for a memorable, thrilling read. The way Linda portrayed the setting and characters is so enchanting that you see each of them come to life as you read on. The main character, Isabella, is a little girl so mature beyond her years and yet Linda maintained a perfect balance to show both her maturity of thoughts and her as a normal 11-year-old. The other characters in the book, human or otherwise, bring something unique and thrilling to an already exciting story. The plot is so original and completely out of this world and yet so utterly believable. It is brought to life through Linda's gripping writing style. Isabella and the Tale of The Unanswered Question is a one of a kind story and I loved reading every single page.

Mamta Madhavan

Isabella and the Tale of the Unanswered Question by Linda Whittaker is the story of 11-year-old Isabella. The protagonist in the story, Isabella, shows how wars can be fought courageously even if they are fraught with dangers, setbacks, dragons and even a villain. Isabella's world is mysterious with speaking animals and other unusual and whimsical creatures. She meets the king who gives her the task of finding a priceless book. This book will decide the fate of the kingdom. The book is Isabella's journey to all her adventures on the way. The book has many dimensions where the journey also goes into her inner self and Isabella travels from self loathing to self confidence and from longing to joy.

The book is an entertaining and dark fairy tale with adventure, mystery and a lot of whimsy. The descriptions of the Lower Kingdom are very visual and eloquent with its enigmatic inhabitants like the Grandmother Spider, Nightwalker Raven, Ancient Turtles and many more. The story takes us through a lot of twists and turns and readers learn some wonderful lessons as they go on a rewarding journey with Isabella. The theme is fresh, creative and original, and is a compelling read. It is an amazing story of survival and also a story of life's journey. The twists and turns in the plot have been woven beautifully into the main story. The vibrant shades and the levels of consciousness readers can travel while reading this story are amazing.