Published By: Penguin Michael Joseph
Released On: 18/08/2022
When Scottie Bains realises that she may never become a mother, she makes the heart-breaking decision to flee to the remote North Atlantic archipelago of St Hia.
Lashed by storms and far from the mainland, the islands are dangerous. Many have been lost to the ferocious tides known as the Hollow Sea – and local folklore warns that St Hia was once the home of a witch. Her name was Thordis, and when she was unable to provide her husband with a child, she was driven to a terrible act . . .
The islanders warn newcomers against examining the past, but Scottie can’t look away from the mystery of what happened to Thordis.
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Michael Joseph for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
I went into this book blind, not really knowing anything about it other than a quick glance at the blurb online, so I had no pre-conceived ideas about what I was about to read.
The format, the writing style is unlike anything I’ve read before. The narrative is so beautiful. I don’t like the sea or open water and at times this book explains why I am scared of it. It’s like an untameable animals, but Annie Kirby also makes it sound like this gorgeous magical creature
I did find the flitting back and forth between characters and time periods a little confusing at first, and I did have to take them as separate stories until I had a good grasp of them, and then I could see how they all fit together, and I ended up loving their link.
It’s not a fantasy novel as such, but there are elements and hints of magic, which was a nice mix with this very accomplished novel (fantasy generally doesn’t get a lot of serious reviews, it’s often seen as a bit frivolous, which I think is undeserved).
It was going forward and backwards in time which I found fascinating. It’s not obvious, and I’m worried that I’ve made that up, but I read it as the present time was telling the story going forward, and the past was telling it backwards.
The weather has such a human quality to it, even when it’s calm, it’s like a coiled spring ready to snap, but when it gets angry, it holds all the power. The way Annie has managed to depict several storms in such different ways is amazing. Surely, once you’ve read one storm scene, you’ve read them all, but this book gives them their own characteristics.
Not everything is black and white. A lot is left up to the reader to decide, which makes the read a bit different to everyone. It leaves some things open, but gives the reader all they could possibly want. You don’t feel short changed that it’s left unfinished.
There is quite a lot of folklore in this and I’m in two minds. I like myths and legends so I would have liked a bit more of that, but you don’t want to stray into complete fantasy territory, as that would have ruined the majesty of the narrative, which is so perfect.
The characters past and present are so well described, it’s like you know them. And you go on this journey together. I love how powerful the female characters were; I would compare the women to the storm, they have this magic and power and inner strength.
This is Annie Kirby’s debut novel and I can already see the promise she has and I’m looking forward to any further stories she writes.