Beyond the Sea by Melissa Bailey

Freya has returned to her lighthouse keeper’s home a year after the disappearance of her husband and son out at sea. Her hair white with shock, her mind full of dreams, legends and loss, she seeks the keys to unlock the mystery of her family’s demise. These keys are both metal and metaphysical.

When she discovers a box of secrets in her son’s room, the keys that unlock the door into the lighthouse bring her closer than ever to understanding how he and her husband died.

This is a novel to read on a beach where the sound of the waves would add an ominous backdrop to the real mystery at the heart of this novel, the unfathomable depths of the ocean itself. The mix of mourning, Hebridean legend – about the Green Island, mermaids and the inner eye – and our innate fear of the ocean is enticing. Myth works well with heady human emotion, especially when it’s accompanied by a journey both emotional and physical.

There are some aspects of the novel that work less well for me. I’m not sure why Freya takes so long over the reading of some lost sailor’s letters. Nor do I entirely believe the voice of her ten-year-old son’s diary. These are minor quibbles though because the story and its writing, particularly of Freya, are enough to carry me through.

Beyond the Sea lightly shines a warning beacon upon intense emotions experienced in isolation. I can see Melissa Bailey’s writing growing more accomplished and I’m eager to discover what she will write next.

Beyond the Sea is out on the 16th July and Melissa Bailey will be interviewed by me not long after as part of a new section of my website ‘Authors Questioned Here’ in which I will interview authors about their work. I’ll keep you updated on the launch of this venture. My first interview is with the wonderful Heidi James whose novella The Mesmerists’ Daughter won the Saboteur Award for Best Novella 2015.

Next week I’m reading The Remains of Love by Zerula Shalev.