The Silver Dark Sea by Susan Fletcher

I think Susan Fletcher is set to be an author who’s books I really look forward to!  I absolutely loved Witch Light and couldn’t wait to read The Silver Dark Sea – and it didn’t disappoint.

The story takes place on the Island of Parla in Scotland.  This is a small island, very insular, where everyone knows everyone else and the idea of privacy is virtually none existent.  The island is steeped in superstition – mermaids and other mythical sea creatures – not to mention the sly tide which brings with it disaster.  I loved all the folk tales that the older characters passed down from generation to generation – they’re the sort of stories you love to hear when you’re a child and then love to retell as an adult.

Four years ago, one of the residents, Tom Bundy drowned rescuing a young boy who had fallen overboard into the sea.  Tom’s widow Maggie still mourns his loss as do the rest of the Islanders.  They’re all trapped in their own personal grief.  Tom was dearly loved.  A sort of golden child if you will.  His mother can’t get over his death and grieves most bitterly.  His older brother blames himself for not being there.  Basically there’s all sorts of self recrimination flying around and life on the island feels as though its been trapped in a bubble.  This is until the day a man is washed up on one of the Island’s coves.  This new man, unknown, yet strangely similar to Tom, who can’t remember his name, is to be the catalyst that finally shakes the residents out of their reverie and bursts the bubble they’ve been suspended in.  For a few moments, in fact, some of the residents believe this is Tom.  Returned to the Island by the sea after four years.

Other islanders think this man’s arrival is no coincidence.  They believe he’s a mythical creature.  Part man, part fish, who has come to dwell amongst them for a limited time and set their lives back to rights.  And, certainly there seems to be a hint of truth in the rumours.  This man seems to have the ability to change the island.  Everyone is fascinated by him, particularly Maggie.

I won’t go into more of the story than that.  What I will expand upon is Susan Fletcher’s writing.  This author is truly gifted!  I swear that you can picture this island vividly.  Fletcher has the ability to make you feel the sea spray upon your skin and the wind in your hair.  You feel like you’re there on the island.  She also pulls you into the culture of the place and really makes you want to believe in mythical creatures.  On top of that her characterisation is spot on.  She builds up stories around all the characters.  This may be a small island with few people but that doesn’t mean it’s quiet and peaceful.  You become aware of their secrets (and you can’t chuck a stick round Parla without hitting a skeleton in a closet) their past lives on the island, or off the island if they’re not originally from Parla.

In terms of criticisms I didn’t have any.  I really enjoyed this although I recognise it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.  This is no fast paced, action packed thriller.  It’s a gentle story, beautifully told.  It does contain a lot of sadness but that’s not what the overall message is.  For me this is a story about how your life can change overnight.  How hope can survive against all odds and how our stories and beliefs make up such a large part of our lives.  It really is a lovely story and as with Witch Light it will be one that I think about for days after I put the book down.

I definitely recommend Susan Fletcher, particularly this story and Witch Light and I have no doubt I will now go back and read her previous work.




11 Responses to “The Silver Dark Sea by Susan Fletcher”

  1. TBM

    Wait is this one not in a series? I love writers who can take me to a place through their words. I may look into this one.

    • lynnsbooks

      I know – kudos for writing a standalone book! Not that I don’t love series but it seems that there are very few books that being and end with No.1. Susan Fletcher is a really beautiful writer. Witch Light is brilliant. Her characters and settings literally come to life.

  2. jessicabookworm

    This sounds a delightfully sweeping tale, just my cup of tea 🙂 I will have to make a note of Susan Fletcher as I haven’t come across her before.

    • lynnsbooks

      You could perhaps start with Witch Light if you want to give her a go. It’s set in a really interesting historical period and based on true events that took place in Scotland. Given your love of history it might be your cup of tea. You have to give it a few pages to hook you but once it grabs you it’s difficult to put down. Really lovely and not as long as The Silver Dark Sea so you could see if you like her style first.
      Lynn 😀

      • jessicabookworm

        Thank you Lynn. I will look out for Witch Light first 🙂

  3. Lynn E. O'Connacht

    Ooooooh. This sounds fantastic! ❤ *adds it to list of books to remember*

    • lynnsbooks

      I really like her writing style. I can see she’s probably not for everyone but sometimes I just want to read a story beautifully told and Susan Fletcher can certainly achieve that. Witch Light is a great book as well. She is a master at characters and settings.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Carol

    Sounds like a lovely book, although perhaps not my cup of tea, at least at this point in time. I don’t seem to have the patience for gentle, slightly sad stories these days.

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I was trying to make it obvious that it’s not for everyone. I quite like a gentle read sometimes but not all the time
      Lynn 😀

  5. Auntie

    Oh a book set in the Scottish Isles! Must read! :-))))

    “Auntie sezzzzzz…” blog… blogspot.

    • lynnsbooks

      Actually, you should give Witch Light a go if you fancy reading about the Scottish Isles – it’s my first book by Susan Fletcher, it’s based on historical facts and also around the period where witch hunts were common and once you get into the style it’s an amazing book. Plus it’s shorter than this book so you can see if you like her style.
      Lynn 😀

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