I really enjoy reading mysteries, and I really enjoy reading books with a supernatural or mystical element. The twain do not often meet, but they did in The Visitors by Simon Sylvester. This book combines the two effortlessly, making for a great beginning-of-fall read. This debut novel was originally published in the UK by Quercus in 2014 and then brought to the U.S. last December by Melville House.
What makes the book so enjoyable is Sylvester’s skill at bringing the dark moodiness of the small Scottish island of Bancree to life while deftly mixing in selkie folktales. And the main character, teenage Flora, shows her anger and desires in a way that’s familiar without being grating to the book’s intended adult audience. This book takes a step away from the predictable with great success.
Flora’s preparing for her last year at high school after her boyfriend has left for college. She knows she will be lonely, and buries herself in a school project about selkies, until she meets her new neighbors, Ailsa and her father. The newcomers seem a little mysterious to the townspeople, but not enough to distract the townsfolk from the ever-increasing number of men gone missing from their island.