Review: The Visitors by Simon Sylvester (4/5)

Friday 8 August 2014
The island has always seemed such a safe place, such a friendly community. Now the possibility of a killer on Bancree is dangerously close to home.

Nobody moves to the remote Scottish island of Bancree, and few leave – but leaving is exactly what seventeen-year-old Flora intends to do. So when a mysterious man and his daughter move into isolated Dog Cottage, Flo is curious. What could have brought these strangers to the island? The man is seductively handsome but radiates menace; and there’s something about his daughter Ailsa that Flo can’t help but feel drawn towards.

People aren’t only arriving on Bancree – they are disappearing too. Reports of missing islanders fill the press and unnerve the community. When a body washes ashore, suspicion turns to the strange newcomers on Dog Rock.

Convinced of their innocence, Flo is fiercely determined to protect her friend Ailsa. Could the answer to the disappearances, and to the pull of her own heart, lie out there, beyond the waves?

When I was offered the chance to review this book I was immediately intrigued. The cover is absolutely stunning and would definitely capture your eye in a bookshop. With eye captured you then read the blurb and are drawn in even more. I know some people don't like blurbs, or even to be told a little bit about the plot but it's very rare that I go into a book blind. I have to at least have some idea about the book before reading it. A book such as this probably wouldn't be my usual read but I'm all about taking a chance and it is absolutely worth it when it pays off.

What we have here is one of the most original, breathtaking and atmospheric novels that I've read in a while. I keep repeating myself with each book but I honestly have been extremely privileged to read some excellent books this year and we've only just hit August. The island of Bancree is as creepy as it sounds, I certainly wouldn't want to move there and if I'd been brought up there I would be looking to make my escape as soon as possible. Someone who does live there and is planning to leave is Flora (Flo) but then a mysterious man and his daughter move to the island. Flo is drawn to the daughter as there's something not quite right about her. Add into the mix the fact that residents of the island are disappearing and our story really gets going.

Flo despite being a teenage girl wasn't hard to connect with and relate to especially as growing up a lot of my friends were female. There are crime fiction elements to the story concerning the missing residents but it's so much more than that. Crime for me usually just comes in the form of your bog standard detective novel, however this book features stuff I've not read about before and wouldn't ordinarily choose to, for example mythology however I actually really enjoyed that aspect of the book despite not expecting to. With incredibly drawn characters and a gripping story this is a book you won't want to put down.

As said earlier the book is extremely atmospheric. If you read this book under the covers by torchlight it would be like you were on the island itself as you forget the world around you. It is addictive reading and a read in a couple of sittings book. I'll definitely be looking out for more from this author in the future especially as this is a debut novel and reads as if written by someone who has been writing books for years. Fantastic stuff that I urge people to pick up.

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