Secrets of the sea house by Elisabeth Gifford

secretsRuth and Michael are renovating a dilapidated old property on the Hebridean island of Harris.  When they make a shocking discovery, buried beneath the house – the bones of a baby, whose fragile leg bones are fused together, Ruth is determined to solve the mystery of her new home.  At the same time it also takes Ruth on a journey into her own past.

The book is full of mystery, magic & legend, and the author seamlessly writes an intriguing tale, set in both the present and past.  Over a century previously the Reverend Alexander Ferguson takes up his new parish on Harris, which will change the course of his life forever.  Alexander fiercely researches the famous Selkie tales, driven by his own family legends but it is often at odds with his pastoral role within the community.   As Alexander teaches his maid Moira to read and write she begins to realise that Alexander’s studies maybe becoming an obsession and that Alexander remains completely unaware of the cruelty of the landlord’s treatment towards the Island’s inhabitants until it is too late.

As a debut novel, this is outstanding and I can’t wait to see what Gifford comes out with next.   Gifford cleverly weaves more than one story together, creating an atmospheric novel which is essentially about people’s lives and how we cope with what life deals us.  Gifford’s characters are flawed which actually does the book great credit.  Gifford takes us through a journey with the characters as they begin to recognise their flaws and what they must do to overcome them.

A brilliant read, highly recommend!


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