I have just finished reading this for the second time and found I enjoyed it even more than the first. For a start, it’s a cracking story involving love, sex, jealousy, possession and murder. Secondly, the author is an accomplished writer who has done her research about the people, places and events she describes but who also has the imagination to bring them to life. The setting of Whitby is evoked so vividly that I feel I could find my way around the narrow alleys and the cliff paths even though I have never been there.
Damaris Sterne, the young heroine lives and works amongst the fisherfolk, a life of poverty and privation,biting cold and constant damp – my hands ached with hers as she gutted piles of freezing cold fish although, thankfully, I didn’t develop chilblains!
When she meets and falls in love with an older man, her life changes in many ways for the better. But this man is Bram Stoker, married to Florence and committed to work for Henry Irving, the great actor/manager in London. What happens next is a clever and credible imagining of Stoker and how he came to write Dracula.
The overwhelming power and violence of a storm-tossed sea together with the near helplessness of those who struggle against it are mirrored in the relationships and emotions of these characters. A sense of evil pervades and for all there is tragedy and loss but the final chapters bring this powerful story to a very satisfying ending.
All in all, a very good read.