Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Sealskin by Su Bristow


Reviewer : Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit, Crimson Shore, False Lights & Sacred Lake (www.gillianhamer.com)


This is the first book I’ve read of this author and I must admit I was totally gripped by both the writing and the story. My love of location as a character in its own right was well and truly quenched here, as Bristow brought alive the surroundings of the remote Western Isles of Scotland with total professionalism and I could almost taste the salty spray of the sea on my lips.

According to the post script, the author based the novel on one of the many legends of the area, that is the selkies which are seals who can transform themselves into people and back again. Tales of such creatures are as known to the locals of the parts as mermaids are to the rest of us, and the fear and intrigue they carry comes across superbly in the story. As well as using the beauty of the landscape, Bristow brings into the play the resilience of the cross section of locals in such a tough landscape, and the strength of human spirit through adversity.

When young fisherman, Donald, gets to see the selkies on one of his lone fishing trips he makes a decision that will change his life forever in any ways. Along with his long-suffering mother, Bridie, he begins a journey that will take him to places and situations he never believed he would visit.

The writing winds its way effortless through this superbly crafted tale and I very much look forward to reading another book by this author.

Highly recommended!


You’ll enjoy this if you like: Kate Hamer, Jo Cannon, Ruth Hogan.

Avoid if you don’t like: Haunting tales and legends of old.

Ideal accompaniments: Smoked mackerel fillets with brown bread and pale ale.

Genre: Contemporary

Available on Amazon







Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Strangers on a Bridge by Louise Mangos


Review by JJ Marsh

What we thought:

On her morning run, Alice spots a man on a bridge, preparing to jump. 
Her innate compassion makes her stop to help. It's a gesture she'll regret.

Manfred believes he and his saviour have a special connection and inveigles his way into her life, affecting her marriage, her children and her mental health. She thinks he needs professional help. He thinks she is his destiny.

This is a classic psychological thriller with a domestic touch. Alice is a wife and mother, plus a stranger in a closed land, trying to cope with exceptional circumstances in a foreign language. As she becomes increasingly isolated and takes some impulsive decisions, the scene is set for a dramatic resolution.

Mangos uses the Swiss landscape and cultural quirks to great effect, but where she excels is in the creeping sense of insecurity growing to paranoia. The steady erosion of Alice's judgement as to right and wrong has the reader scrabbling for a foothold on an icy, fatal slope.

Some of her choices appear inexplicable in the 'If it were me' mindset, which only underlines the derailment this woman has undergone. This novel is a look into the abyss within all of us.

You’ll enjoy this if you liked: 
The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn, Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum, Mindsight by Chris Curran.

Avoid if you don’t like: Psychological uncertainty, Swiss background, German language.

Ideal accompaniments: Wild deer with chestnuts, Pinot Noir and Profondo Rosso by Goblin