The Visitors by Simon Sylvester

Nobody comes to the remote Scottish island of Bancree, and seventeen-year-old Flora can't wait to move to the mainland when she finishes school. So when a mysterious man and his daughter move into isolated Dog Cottage, Flora is curious. What could have brought these strangers to the island? The man is seductive but radiates menace, while Flo finds a kindred spirit in his daughter, Ailsa.

Meanwhile, several of the men on Bancree have disappeared, unnerving the community. When a body washes ashore, suspicion turns to the newcomers. But Flo suspects something else, even though it seems impossible: She asks local residents for anything they know about "selkies," the mythical women who can turn from seal to human and back again.

Convinced of her new neighbors' innocence, Flo is fiercely determined to protect her friend Ailsa. Can the answer to the disappearances, and to the pull of her own heart, lie out there, beyond the waves?
What is real and what is imagined? The Visitors explores the Scottish folklore of selkies in a backdrop of a small island where its residents have started going missing.

Flo wants nothing more than to leave her tiny Scottish island of Bancree. She feels disconnected from her home and wants to go on an adventure anywhere else but Bancree. She also doesn't want to make any new friendships but fate has different plans. Her new neighbor Ailsa moves into an even smaller island across from her house with her father. Both are rather beautiful people, Flo notes. Ailsa is shy and artistic. Her father keeps to himself and can be protective of his daughter. The mystery of the missing men starts to bring about suspicions amongst the islanders about what is happening to these men, could they have been killed, and if so who did it? With the new arrival of this strange father-daughter duo, is it possible that the father's reserved and rough demeanor means that he's a killer? Or could it be a mythical creature that isn't supposed to exist?

Annie Sprat

Before reading The Visitors, I did a basic search on selkies which I found out to be seals who can shed their skins and becomes humans. Shocked and amused by this knowledge, I dove in to The Visitors hoping to discover more. Luckily, The Visitors delivered many stories about selkies although ones I wasn't expecting. Selkies can be seen in two lights - love stricken and cruel. Most of the stories told leaned into the darker side of selkies which connected back into the main plot of missing islanders. Although I enjoyed the mystery and the way the story was written when the twist was added in the story afterwards became jarring and confusing.

I truly loved the writing in most of this story. It is set in Scotland so there are some words here and there that I got the chance to look up. I enjoyed the setting of the small island with barely any people living on it. The setting laid a great foundation for the mysterious and fantasy elements that surrounded the story. Although, more interaction with the islanders would have been nice. I liked Flo's voice and seeing things from her perspective. I liked how her family was around and we got to know them when they interacted with Flo. There was a few strange dreams Flo had that made everything more interesting. Her school project on selkies led to some engaging stories about selkies that were horrifying and fantastic at the same time. And then the twist of the story was reached and everything fell apart.

Now the twist was really good. It surprised the heck out of me but then after that things became confusing and pointless. I know the author alluded to how selkies were manipulated in a story to fit a narrative and how you could never know the truth of said stories however, the resolution left me so disappointed.

There was somewhat of an ambiguous ending because if you read back in the story, there were moments that alluded to something different. After I wrapped my head around everything and came to a conclusion, I hated that ending. The reason being it made me dislike the main character instantly. She doesn't receive any consequences to her actions. The twist, albeit very interesting, ruins my connection with Flo. After everything she seems like a spoiled brat and I liked her so much. And she's not presented in any way as an unlikable character. You clearly should feel for this character but in the end I didn't which frustrated me to no end for days.


How was your first book of the year?
Do you know of any selkie/sea creature stories?

Comments

  1. Ugh- sorry to hear that the twist ruined your connection with Flo;. Up until that point it sounds like the book was really great. I don't recall ever hearing of a selkie. Now I am curious about them! Thanks for sharing. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. It was the worst when it got to that point. I'm thinking of now lowering my star rating on Goodreads which isn't the best feeling. I do have to say that the stories on selkies was the most interesting part. I'm very curious to read more about them as well.

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  2. I love the Scottish setting, but it's too bad the ending was a bummer!

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    1. Yep, it has made me want to read more Scottish and Selkie books at least.

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  3. I like the fact that this book is about selkies. That sounds really interesting. Too bad it sounds like the big twist didn't really work for you.

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    1. Yep. I want to explore more books about selkies though and maybe some other creatures I don't know too much about.

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  4. I am a sucker for stories set in Scotland and you had me at selkie. Definitely going to check this one out, great review!

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    1. Thanks! Hopefully you like the ending more than I did (:

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  5. Oh no, how awful for your experience of The Visitors to be ruined right at the end like that. I was entranced by the ideas in your review - remote Scottish location, mystery, mythical creatures - but now I think I'll give this one a miss.

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    1. I know! It was practically perfect. I'm sure there are many other readers who loved the twist. I did like it to an extent. Then it became ridiculous when the main character seemed to benefit in the end.

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  6. This book looks so good!! Selkies?! *adds to TBR*

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    1. I wish it was a little better. Have you ever read a selkie book before?

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