In the tradition of Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks, Simon Sylvester brings an ancient myth to life with this lush, atmospheric coming-of-age tale
Nobody comes to the remote Scottish island of Bancree, and seventeen-year-old Flora can’t wait to move to the mainland when she finishes school. So when a mysterious man and his daughter move into isolated Dog Cottage, Flora is curious. What could have brought these strangers to the island? The man is seductive but radiates menace, while Flo finds a kindred spirit in his daughter, Ailsa.
Meanwhile, several of the men on Bancree have disappeared, unnerving the community. When a body washes ashore, suspicion turns to the newcomers on Dog Rock. But Flo suspects something else, even though it seems impossible: She asks local residents for anything they know about “selkies,” the mythical women who can turn from seal to human and back again.
Convinced of her new neighbors’ innocence, Flo is fiercely determined to protect her friend Ailsa. Can the answer to the disappearances, and to the pull of her own heart, lie out there, beyond the waves?
“Sylvester’s nicely done first novel is an invitation to imagination as it explores the ambiguous intersection of fantasy and reality.”
“A meditation on place, history, and progress… The mythic echoes are allowed to resonate, making the reader question the line between story and truth. Successfully explores the power of stories and storytelling across place and time.”
“It’s an astonishingly assured debut, fit to put the fear of the deep dark sea into other authors, be they old hands at shennachi profession or first-timers like Sylvester himself.”
“A murderous whodunnit of myth.”
—Glasgow Sunday Mail (UK)
“Fantastic descriptions of island life, of the diesel-spluttering ferry that forms Bancree’s tenuous connection with the rest of the world and of the moods of the sea around it. Lovely… Sylvester has a gift for storytelling.”
—Sam Jordinson, The Guardian (UK)