Once, there was a man. He was bearded and kind. He lived on an island in a stone-walled house with a tap that dripped, and a small peat fire. He had no friends to speak of. All his family were gone.
–Susan Fletcher - The silver dark sea (The fisherman of Sye) c.2012
Life is different when you live on an island. The sea is all important, whether or not you make you living from it. The sea can be heard everywhere, and to be without it is unthinkable. The sea also brings gifts; washed up wellington books, feathers, shells and the like. But the sea also takes. Four years ago Maggie lost her husband to the sea. The Bundys lost their brother. But now something has happened, the sea has brought a life to the island, a man is washed up on shore, an incident that will alter many lives on the island of Parla.
It took me a while to get into this book. I wasn’t sure about the narration choice. Some is first person, some is third person. It distanced me for a bit. And the fact that dialogue was italicised rather than within quotes marks threw me as well. I’m not sure why some authors feel they need to use that sort of a gimmick when there is no need for it.
I also wasn’t too sure of what was going on in this story. But there is a reason for that ambiguity in this novel. The characters themselves are unsure so why shouldn’t the reader be too.
About of the third of the way through, however, and the book finally gripped me. I started to really enjoy the read. Yes, it is maudlin and sentimental, with its tales of love at first sight and people who “just knew” but those thoughts came when I put the book down. While I was reading I was entertained, although never really enthralled.
I really enjoyed Fletcher’s writing, lyrical I believe is the term used in the blurb.
It is funny, I read this without thought of this year’s Once Upon a Time Challenge, and in many ways it really doesn’t fit the theme, because this is a book about love and loss and redemption rather than a fantasy novel or a fairy tale, yet at its heart is the power of story. The power of the fairy tale. So I’m going to count it as the first of my OUAT reads.
Feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments if you’ve read this one