Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Sea House, by Elisabeth Gifford

The Sea House

I've been fascinated by selkies and seal-people ever since watching The Secret of Roan Inish as a six year old. 
(I've since watched that movie at least twenty times, and the story, the people, and the place still captivate me.) 
So I wanted to read The Sea House. And... I just finished it. 

This story is wild and stormy and gray and shining and wind-blown. 

There is the present, in Ruth and Michael's lives, as this young couple renovates the Sea House to make an inn out it. 
There was something there that made Ruth uneasy, and she had no idea what it was. It wasn't the sea itself... despite the fact her mother had died in water, Ruth never let that haunt her. 
And there's no reason for the house to be anything other than a welcoming home, until the skeleton was found.
A tiny skeleton, of a baby with curved and joined leg bones. The bone structure of a mermaid. Who was she? Whose was she? 
And why do her bones lie underneath a manse floor? 

That leads us to the past... to Reverend Alexander Ferguson and his household. To Moira, his maid, who tells us her own story. To Lord Marstone, and the cruelty he inflicted upon Moira's impoverished people. To men and women of the sea who find themselves on land, trying to make life out of seaweed and peat smoke on the edge of an island. To the intersection of scientific discovery and the mysteries of creation. 
To love that runs deep and lore that comes true.  

Back to the present, Ruth herself is a woman trying to get through the day without letting her past either kill her or rule her. She is a character who was cut deeply by the jagged edges of life, and in telling her memories she nicks the reader a tiny bit, letting us share her experience through the page. 
Throughout this tale are tiny threads of grace and peace, as Ruth begins to accept her own story and she finds the truth for the mermaid baby. 

I can picture this book being a Chinaberry recommend.  Thank you to St. Martin's Press through Litfuse Publicity for my review copy. 

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