1870. Apprentice lighthouseman James Meakes joins two others at the remote offshore rock of Ripsaw 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.
A lighthouse in the middle of the sea, the beam of the light pulsating in the darkness, the waves crashing at its base, three men its keepers, locked together, simmering tensions, ghostly apparitions, a tantilising prospect for a novel that promised and delivered so much.
It largely centered around apprentice keeper, James Meakes, orphaned, largely raised by his uncle in a psychiatric community that Stanley hinted had a more profound effect than we at first realised. He walked into a veritable melting pot, underlying tensions between the principle and assistant keeper rippled throughout, Meakes, the middle man, poised to learn yet unsure of what lay ahead.
Stanley did not descend his characters into a sudden whirlwind of recriminations and actions, instead it was gradual, words used to sow the seeds of doubt, missing items, subtle actions that left Meakes questioning his own mind. We had glimpses of his past, suggestions of a mental illness, a mysterious death. How reliable was our narrator, was he really an innocent or just a victim? I never did make my mind up, and ultimately felt it was a mixture of the two, a credit to Stanley who really made me think and question his narrative as events descended into violence, as a storm lashed against the lighthouse walls.
It was Stanley’s narrative that excelled above all else, the menace he managed to intertwine, the suggestive asides, the haunting isolation, suspicion, the close proximity of the three men, escape impossible that raised the stakes that much higher.
The outcome was non the less haunting and the imagery for those final scenes were somehow chilling and uncomfortable but perfectly in keeping with the novel as a whole.
I Am The Sea was uniquely different, a psychological examination of the human mind, of isolation that was deeply and wonderfully affecting.
I would like to thank Legend Times for a copy of I Am The Sea to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Matt Stanley was born in Sheffield and achieved a first class degree in English and American Literature from the University of East Anglia. He is the author of a number of detective novels for Macmillan and has previously taught an MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. I am the Sea is Matt’s eleventh novel.
Follow Matt on Instagram @mattstanleyauthor