Monday, 14 December 2015

Review: The Visitors by Simon Sylvester

For fans of Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks, a teenaged girl’s coming-of-age story sees a myth come to life on a lush Scottish Island

On the remote, windswept Scottish island Bancree, men are disappearing without a trace, and to two teenaged girls, it looks like the work of the mythical selkies—-women that turn into seals.

Paperback, 368 pages
Expected publication: December 29th 2015 by Melville House
Terri's Thoughts

**I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Melville House via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is December 29th, 2015**

I will be upfront and say that I gambled on this story.  It seemed a little like it was outside of my comfort zone however in my quest to expand my horizons I decided to take the plunge.  Additional doubts arrived when I read the synopsis on Goodreads.  A lot less detailed than the one I read when I decided to request it and in reality not a great synopsis to capture attention.

I was pleasantly surprised.  Sylvester told the story by keeping it mostly surrounded in reality and telling the tail of the Selkies through stories told as Scottish folklore.  While you knew there was something not realistic at play, it was understated and not overwhelming.  When the time came for fantasy to meet reality it was not overwhelming and it made sense to the story.

The character of Flo was likeable in the sense that she was a little bit of a loner and awkward however everyone can identify with the need to move on to something better.

If I had to offer a little bit of constructive criticism, I will say that towards the end I had trouble visualizing the description of what was going on with the Selkies.  I'm not sure if it is because my imagination is rooted in reality or if the pace of the story sped up to a pace I couldn't keep up with.

At the end of the day I am glad I opened my mind to this story as I enjoyed it.  It goes to show that you should step outside of your comfort zone every once in a while.

About the Author

imon Sylvester a writer, teacher and occasional filmmaker. He was born in 1980 and grew up in Scotland, England, Germany and Northern Ireland. He studied English Literature at Lancaster University and Film Production at the University of Bristol.

After years working as a camera assistant and then a magazine journalist, he started writing fiction in 2006. His short stories have been published in a host of journals, anthologies and magazines including Dark Mountain, Gutter, Valve, [PANK], Fractured West, Fire Crane, Southpaw and Smoke: a London Peculiar. He won the Flashtag short short story slam in 2014, and has written more than a thousand very short stories on Twitter.

His debut novel, The Visitors, is published by Quercus Books. It was reviewed by The List as 'intoxicating' and 'enchanting'. He is now working on his second novel, which is called The Hollows.

Simon lives in Cumbria with the painter Monica Metsers and their daughter Isadora.


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