Wendy Shreve Updated November 18, 2014
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Writer's Center of Cape Cod, MWA
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Ignoring friends’ warnings about interfering with ancient rituals, Lili chooses to walk into the fire, unwittingly jeopardizing her sanity to learn the truth.
The Spirit Rider – A review of the novel ‘Dark Sea’
“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes” - Arthur Conan Doyle
All of us are connected to each other in one way or another, through pain and pleasure, through life and death and through the rational and the unexplainable, there’s a link that joins our lives with the others. And when we all come together, a very special connection occurs.
Author Wendy Shreve’s new novel, ‘Dark Sea’ is the sequel to the highly successful first book ‘Shadowwater’. Taking off after a year since the incidents described in the first book occur; this novel brings back all the major players and introduces a few new ones. Lili Ribault, the highly successful author of supernatural stories is now leading a quiet and existentialist life trying to come to terms with her alternate identity. Meanwhile her soul mate Cal Green struggles to find a balance between his love for her and helping her find herself. And when a couple of outsiders are thrown into this mix with their insatiable greed and varied interests in the myth of the land; Cape Cod needs quite a few heroes to help save the day.
The charm of the book lies in the fact that it takes you to a small town setting with lots of characters all of whom seems to know each other very well. And privacy isn’t much of an issue here and they needn’t depend on social media status updates either, for everyone already knows what is going on in other people’s lives. The narrative of this novel is in many ways reminiscent of one of those new age story driven video games, you have to work through the mystery and play through all the levels to get to the end to find out the big secret, to revel in the finale. That being said, I would seriously suggest everyone to go out and read the first book first so that the introduction and acclimatization to the various characters and the setting will be easier, as otherwise it does take quite a bit of time to get used to the various characters and the pace of the book. This is especially so because ‘Dark Sea’ is written as the second half of the story told in the first book and isn’t necessarily a standalone new novel, but if you are willing to spend some time and invest yourself in the first couple of chapters then you should be able to get right into it and you will get sucked into its wordplay.
Wendy Shreve has a wonderful prose which when it needs to be is highly poetic. In many ways the entire novel feels like reading a movie script and except for the places where the author shows off her prose skills, in the rest of the book, the way the scenes are contrived, planned and executed and the way each scene cuts away smoothly to draft into a new one all reminds you of a cinematic experience. It also seems to be professionally edited; the unseen presence of a very skilled editor can be felt throughout the novel. Wendy has also blended the myth and folklore with the mystery element quite nicely. And speaking about mystery, while the character of Rusty goes about silently investigating the plane crash mystery in the background, we get to see the rest of the characters act out their complicated lives in front of us while subtly revealing even newer mysteries to us. In fact, the mystery element is always kept alive by postulating newer details and bringing it forth into the foreground every now and then but at the same time, the reader is never allowed to get ahead of the narrative in trying to uncover the truth either.
The main romantic pair, Cal and Lili’s relationship graph is handled brilliantly, their ups and downs, their longing and their break away, have all been captured nicely by the author. She actually has a winner of a romantic couple; the kind readers would want to see get together at the earliest. But then the author plays God and interferes in their lives and keeps them apart for the time being, playing on the reader’s emotion and making them wait for the next book to see if they end up together. This and the cliff hanger end ensure that the wait for the third book will be a pure guilty pleasure.