Monday 16 August 2021

Book Review: I Am the Sea by Matt Stanley

I Am the Sea by Matt Stanley book cover

AD* | 1870. Apprentice lighthouseman James Meakes joins two others at the remote offshore rock of Ripshaw Reef - replacement for a keeper whose death there remains unexplained. 

Meakes' suspicions grow as he accustoms himself to his new vertical world. He finds clues, obscure messages and signs that a fourth occupant may be sharing the space, slipping unseen between staircases.

With winter approaching, the keepers become isolated utterly from shore. Sea and wind rage against the tower. Danger is part of the life. Death is not uncommon. And yet as the storm builds, the elements pale against a threat more wild and terrifying than any of them could have imagined.

I found this book incredibly difficult to review. It's one of those books that I think will stick with me, yet even after reading it, I'm not entirely sure if I liked it. It's certainly unique.

Its prose is lyrical - almost whimsical - and adds a deliciously decadent air to the book. Rich with description and free-flowing words, this is the fine wine of the literary world. That being said, it doesn't make it easy to read. It's very classical in its approach, yet at times, it does feel as though you're wading through treacle in search of the plot. 

The entire book is set within the confines of the lighthouse's walls. This unusual setting makes the perfect backdrop to a twisty, Gothic novel, complete with a gloomy atmosphere and foreboding weather. It's intensely character-driven - even with a limited cast - and in fact, the lighthouse and the weather outside almost become characters in their own rights. 

Moving between the mundane and the extra-ordinary, I Am the Sea poses philosophical questions in one breath while quoting famous novels in the next. The narrative thread darts around like the inside of the narrator's mind; often rambling, yet always finding its way in the end. 

This book is excellently paced, rising to the big reveal and a thrilling conclusion. I correctly guessed the twist about halfway through, yet luckily this didn't detract from my enjoyment as the story panned out. It's tense, suspenseful, and gripping. 

Uniquely unsettling, I Am the Sea is an intriguing literary fiction novel with a rich, Gothic atmosphere.

Rating: 3 stars 

I Am the Sea is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

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