“Fleeing an abusive marriage and tormented by her past, Alexandra Turner finds solace in a small coastal town on Puget Sound and a job with a local marine biologist studying orcas.
After befriending a group of locals, Alex learns that she has moved to a place that has a reputation of being the “most haunted town in Washington.” Such superstitions would be easy to dismiss…if Alex wasn’t already on edge.
Haunted by shreds of memories of her days with her husband, Alex can’t keep from looking over her shoulder. As unexplained sounds and scents accumulate and unnerving forces seem to take hold, Alex is beginning to believe that she’s not escaping her ghosts, after all. In fact, she might finally be inviting them in.”
Today is publication day for this book, so I am happy to be sharing my review of it with you all as it launches to the wider world, and it is definitely worth picking up. I’m not sure why this title caught my eye on NetGalley as it is not by an author I know – serendipity or more supernatural forces at work? Whatever it was, am I glad it did, as I raced through it in 24 hours and enjoyed every minute.
It is a very hard book to categorise – part ghost story, part nature tale, part women’s fiction – an unusual blend that had the potential to be a jarring mashup but the writer has woven the different elements together very skilfully to make a compelling narrative that had me gripped to the last page.
It follows the stories of three different women. We meet the central character, Alex, as she arrives in the tiny town of Copper Cove on a small island in the Puget Sound on a dark day in December. She is ostensibly there to assist a local woman, Maggie, catalogue the years of research she has done into the local population of orcas, but we soon find out that her story is more about what she is running from than where she is running to. To add to Alex’s tension, Maggie is hiding her own secrets, and her neighbour, Emmie Porter (rumoured to be the local witch due to her amazing powers with animals) is somehow involved. To further add to the tension, Alex is staying alone in a large old house on a hill on the outskirts of a town rumoured to be the most haunted town in Washington State…
The author sets up the story in its location very well. The tiny town, distant from land and civilisation, in the dark days of winter, is suitably claustrophobic and menacing enough to compound Alex’s already well-honed sense of dread and the secrets she gradually unveils grow increasingly creepy. During the last fifth of the book, I was sat up in bed, my heart thumping, ripping through the pages to find out what was going to happen – it really is a page turner.
The story gradually unveils the back story of the three women in a series of flashbacks which work very effectively, gradually pulling in to a point where they start to interweave and finally explode as one at the culmination of the book; it is very skilfully done and the characters are thoroughly drawn and believable, even as parts of the plot are asking you to suspend your disbelief beyond the every day.
One of the main reasons I picked up this book in the first place, and where it did not disappoint was to do with the setting. The Pacific Northwest is an area that holds a particular fascination for me and this book has only increased my longing to visit. The setting lends itself perfectly to the storyline, and the author does an amazing job of placing us firmly in the centre of the landscape. You don’t need to flex your imagination too hard to be able to picture the island, the town, the water and the natural phenomena she describes. I have a particular fondness for members of the oceanic dolphin family and this books blends a lot of interesting information about them into the plot seamlessly.
The book isn’t perfect. I would have liked a little more description about the town itself. To a degree the ending felt a little rushed and there was a flurry of ‘coincidences’ and happenings in the denouement which stretched credibility to the very furthest point of acceptability within the confines of what I believe the book was trying to be. However, all in all this was a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would recommend it without reservation. I doubt anyone who picks it up will regret the time they invest in it.
The Music of the Deep is out now and you can buy a copy here.
About the Author
Born in San Jose, California, Elizabeth Hall has spent most of her life in the mountains of Colorado. She has worked as a teacher and communications consultant, including hosting, writing, and producing the radio show Heart of the West. She has two grown children. She is the bestselling author of Miramont’s Ghost and In the Blue Hour and now resides on an island in the Pacific Northwest, where she indulges in the fiber arts and keeps an eye out for whales.