Seaglass by Eloise Williams

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Published by Firefly Press, 2018.

I loved this creepy ghost story and read it in less than 24 hours. I usually steer clear of scary stories as they terrify me and I end up either unable to sleep or having nightmares. Seaglass, however, was different. It was scary in an unsettling (not petrifying) way. There was a wonderful sense of foreboding throughout and it had me looking over my shoulder a couple of times as I read.

It’s October half term and thirteen-year-old Lark has come away on a family holiday to an out-of-season caravan park in Wales. Her mom is seriously ill and spends much of the time sleeping; her dad is caught up in worry; and Snow, her eight-year-old sister, is traumatised by her mother’s prognosis and has withdrawn into herself and stopped speaking. The girls are pretty much left to themselves and they begin to explore the nearby wood and forbidden areas of the beach. It’s on the beach in a sudden and unexpected sea fog that the sisters first encounter the ghost, a young girl in a green dress.

The mystery of this solitary young ghost becomes Lark’s, and the book’s, focus. Who is she? Why is she here? And what does she want from Snow? The ghost becomes an increasingly sinister and dangerous presence and the book’s climax is dark and dramatic. I was on tenterhooks!

After the first few chapters, the story widens out from the immediate family as Lark and Snow’s grandmother and some friends arrive to stay on the site too. Characters are drawn very well and the relationships between them are believable. Lark is depicted especially convincingly. She’s a surly, sulky teen whose anger is always simmering just below the surface and she frequently flies into an almost uncontrollable rage. This darkness stems from fears that she cannot voice. Lark is struggling with her mother’s illness yet cannot find the words to talk to anyone about it. The portrayal of the sibling relationship is also excellent. The bond that holds them together is palpable.

I also loved Eloise Williams’s wonderful use of language. Her descriptions of the woods, the sea and the sand dunes, and the effects of light on water are beautiful and evocative. In fact, I even re-read several passages because the language was so exquisite.

I highly recommend this unnerving tale of loneliness, betrayal and the bonds of family and friendship.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 9+

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