When a small child is found wandering alone, the local shopkeepers call the authorities immediately. Twenty minutes later, the girl’s mother turns up, panicked and distraught. It doesn’t take long to clear things up, and mother and daughter are soon reunited and sent on their way.
Miles away, the body of a man is discovered, floating in a bathtub, but the most surprising discovery of all is that he isn’t dead. Despite his injuries, he is very much alive.
Two seemingly unrelated events. But as DS Harper begins to investigate, disturbing truths start to come to light that connect the man to the mother and child, and suddenly it’s not clear where the danger truly lies. Harper must find out, and quickly. Because someone, or something, is closing in and she needs to uncover the truth before it’s too late…
Weaving together the trademark folklore inspiration that readers loved in Little Darlings, with the procedural narrative force of a brilliant mystery, this is the excellent and unnerving new novel from Melanie Golding.
My thoughts: Melanie Golding’s previous book was super creepy (Little Darlings) but this one is more sad than sinister. Constance is a selkie – a seal-woman from the Outer Hebrides and a world away from 21st Century living. When Ruby finds her kept as a prisoner, along with her daughter Leonie, she promises to help them escape their awful captor.
The meshing of ancient folklore and modern world is beautifully done, Ruby at first believes Gregor’s story that Constance is mentally ill and that her “skin” is nonsense. But she gradually comes to see the truth in the tale. Perhaps the selkies, long a feature of Northern Scottish, Icelandic and Scandinavian stories do live beyond the islands in the cold North Sea. What is certain, Gregor is not a good man and escaping from him is vital. With Ruby’s police officer sister on the case, the women don’t have long to run.
Really enjoyable, magical stuff. Made me go hunting out my book of Celtic myths for more tales of the seal folk.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.