Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Sea House


Scotland, 1860.

Reverend Alexander Ferguson, naive and newly-ordained, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the Hebridean island of Harris. His time on the island will irrevocably change the course of his life, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after Alexander departs. It will be more than a century before the Sea House reluctantly gives up its secrets. Ruth and Michael buy the grand but dilapidated building and begin to turn it into a home for the family they hope to have. Their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery. The tiny bones of a baby are buried beneath the house; the child's fragile legs are fused together --- a mermaid child. Who buried the bones? And why? Ruth needs to solve the mystery of her new home --- but the answers to her questions may lie in her own past.
Based on a real nineteenth-century letter to The Times in which a Scottish clergyman claimed to have seen a mermaid, The Sea House is an epic, sweeping tale of loss and love, hope and redemption, and how we heal ourselves with the stories we tell.
My Review:

A raw and often gritty tale of survival, courage and, ultimately, hope.

Gifford is an exceptionally gifted wordsmith. She creates vivid scenes and heart wrenching emotions that compel a reader to enter her world and stay awhile. An intriguing story set in two different time periods, the author does a great job of blending past and present

The Sea House is told in first person narrative from three different characters' perspectives. Ruth, Moira and Alexander. All are connected to the mysteries surrounding the Sea House and I enjoyed the clever way the author meshed their stories together.

In present day Ruth struggles to suppress her tragic past, but the more she buries the horrors from her childhood, the more unpredictable and volatile she becomes. Irrational, consumed by fear, she hides a rash of insecurities behind a blustering bravado. I found a great parallel between Ruth's untamed spirit and the untamed land and sea that surrounds the Sea House. Just like Ruth, the house holds secrets and neither will be at peace until they are revealed.

While I found The Sea House to be a captivating story, I was disappointed to find profanity within its pages. A real shame because this talented author doesn't need to resort to swear words in order to convey emotion. Rather then upping the intensity, the swearing pulled me out of the story, I realize that this is a personal viewpoint and though others might feel differently, I am not comfortable doing a giveaway of this book.

I was given a review copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group and the publisher.


  1. I just had to turn down reviewing a wonderful story for a talented author for the same reason. The swearing was used to rail at God and other places near the beginning of the book, and I see no purpose for that at all. It added nothing to the book. Some may say "that's reality" but I don't want to read it in my Christian fiction books. It's one of the reasons why I got away from secular.

    1. I agree, Diana. This isn't a Christian fiction book. I got it through Litfuse and I just assumed it was Christian fiction because all the other books I got from them are. My mistake. They didn't realize there was swearing in it either though. Such a shame. And you know what? The only reason profanity is considered 'reality' is because media (print, tv, movies, magazines) has made it that way. Yes, of course there have been cuss words throughout time, but the repetetive use in media in these supposedly 'modern' times has taken it to a whole new level. In my opinion authors don't have to demean themselves the way the rest of society has. Sigh. I'll admit to being sensitive about this subject. Like you, I got away from secular fiction because of the content. I manage to go days without hearing a swear word and it was a shock to run into it in a book.Words hold power and that's really hit home because the words I read are stuck in my head a week later. We really are what we read.

    2. A lady that publicized it on FB thought that it was Christian fiction also and had not read it yet. I am so glad you mentioned the profanity, bc I in turn in a private mss'g warned her and she was so grateful. My grown kids and hubby doesn't use profanity around me, so yeah, it's disturbing to have to read them. Words really do hold power...be they good or bad.

  2. I am intrigued by The Sea House. Thank you, Kav, for a great review.

    mauback55at gmail dot com

  3. This one sounds like a good read. Seems poor Ruth has many problems. I want a chance to win it. Thanks!
    Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <