I am very grateful to Philippa Cotton at Penguin Random House for providing an Advanced Reader Copy of ‘Beyond the Sea’ which is published by Arrow on 16th July 2015.
Following the tragic death in a boating accident of her son Sam and husband Jack, Freya is struggling to cope with her grief. She goes back to the lighthouse-keeper’s cottage where the family had been happy together to seek some kind of peace. However, recovering from tragedy is not a straight forward path.
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Beyond the Sea’. It is a quick (but by no means superficial), engaging and absorbing read.
From the menacing portents of the prologue, the uneasy undercurrent persists throughout, making the reader’s pulse increase and drawing them into the story. This is a subtle effect and works extremely well. There is a satisfying rhythm to the writing.The writing itself is often lyrical and poetic and descriptions bring the text to vibrant life.
‘Beyond the Sea’ has a Russian-doll-like structure with oral history, letters, a diary, fable and the events surrounding Freya all building the narrative and intertwining so that, along with Freya, the reader isn’t always sure what is real and what is imagination. Melissa Bailey has a highly intelligent approach, mixing well researched mythology with narrative to create a really entertaining story.
The characters are real people with whom the reader can engage, but I think it is the sea that is the most vivid and important character in the book. I was utterly captivated by the descriptions of the sea’s moods and power. I am slightly in awe of the sea anyway and Melissa Bailey’s writing has compounded my sense of unease at what lurks beneath the surface.
‘Beyond the Sea’ is a really good read and I will be reading Melissa Bailey’s first novel. ‘The Medici Mirror’ too as soon as I can.