Friday 17 July 2015

Reviewed: Beyond the Sea by Melissa Bailey.

Beyond the Sea was published by Arrow on July 16, 2015.

Thanks to Melissa and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.

The first thing I noticed about Beyond the Sea was how very atmospheric it was. Every sentence appeared to be beautifully written with emotion and energy and it felt like the kind of book that just one more page was never going to be enough. The writing style was wonderfully entrancing. As for the story itself, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it. The blurb hints at all sorts but it’s left open for us to make our own interpretations and catch on to the mystery at the heart of this novel. I think a lot of people reading the first few chapters will probably be aware that the story here is a bit slow to get going. The pacing of this book is quite different to what I normally choose to read but it didn’t take me long to settle into the story and get used to the style of writing, finding the pace actually worked well at building up the intrigue and the atmosphere. The depiction of the sea was very haunting and led me to have all sorts of ideas as to where the story was heading. I loved each little detail which added more to the chilling factor and the tension.

I don’t want to give the story away and so there’s not too much I can say about this book. Protagonist Freya has returned to the light-house keeper’s cottage one year on following her husband and son being lost at sea. What happened to them is still a mystery but the impact their loss has taken on Freya is plain to see. She’s grieving, suffering from nightmares and struggling to piece her life back together without her husband and her precious son, who meant the world to her. The storytelling is quite powerful and emotional. Grieving, guilt and the acceptance of loss are all themes explored here by Melissa and I found her writing to be very evocative and very mesmerising. Though not to say that nothing happens in this story, I found the charm of Melissa’s writing to be how she captured the essence of being at sea with every sentence and the gentle tone to her writing made the harsh atmosphere of the sea and all the mythology really come to life.

There’s many layers to this story and I found it fascinating to read. My favourite aspect came through the letters and diary entries. We get to see love letters from the 1600s, a soldier from one of Cromwell’s ships and I found his words to be very moving and his writing to be beautifully done and towards the end, brought a tear to my eye. I especially loved the diary entries of Freya’s son, as they worked their way into her mind and interloped nicely with Freya’s own experience at sea and helped her attempts to uncover the mysteries brought through his disappearance. Until towards the end where the pace builds, I think it’s fair to say that there isn’t much action in this book, more us being told of things rather than watching it unfold. Normally this isn’t the kind of writing I get along with but Melissa’s talent is evident and I was enthralled with her raw, descriptive writing and some stunning imagery and folklore. Beyond the Sea is a captivating story – beautiful, emotive and well worth a read.

Haunting, atmospheric tale of one woman whose life appears to be lost at sea


  1. This looks really good, thanks for your great review. I'm definitely going to check out the book straight away!

    1. Thank you, Suze. I think this is one that you would like!


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