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Secrets of the Sea House

Secrets of the Sea House [Kindle Edition]

Elisabeth Gifford
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

Print List Price: 7.99
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Product Description


Secrets of the Sea House is an arresting tale of the things that haunt us. But the real pleasure in this debut novel is Elisabeth Gifford's finely wrought prose; at turns acute, delicate and fierce --Liza Klaussmann, author of TIGERS IN RED WEATHER

Gifford moves nimbly between the centuries and voices of her intriguing tale. She is a singular and poetic writer --Rhidian Brook, author of THE AFTERMATH

Sure to ignite an interest in sea mythology partnered with real-life ground-breaking sightings and discoveries, this is the perfect read if you're heading to a British beach this summer --Red Magazine

Fans of historical fiction, folklore and Scotland will all enjoy this wonderful debut; Gifford is a writer to watch --We Love This Book

A sweeping summer read, packed with an epic tale of loss, love and hope --Irish News

This is a book that you'll remember, long after the last page has been turned --Daily Express

Anything this good deserves the largest readership possible and we readers deserve to be treated to novels like this from time to time too; symbiosis in action. --Bookbag

Gifford moves nimbly between the centuries and voices of her intriguing tale. She is a singular and poetic writer. --Rhidian Brook, author of THE AFTERMATH

Product Description

Scotland, 1860. Reverend Alexander Ferguson, naïve and newly-ordained, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the Hebridean island of Harris. His time on the island will irrevocably change the course of his life, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after Alexander departs.

It will be more than a century before the Sea House reluctantly gives up its secrets. Ruth and Michael buy the grand but dilapidated building and begin to turn it into a home for the family they hope to have. But their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery. The tiny bones of a baby are buried beneath the house; the child's fragile legs are fused together - a mermaid child. Who buried the bones? And why? Ruth needs to solve the mystery of her new home - but the answers to her questions may lie in her own past.

Based on a real nineteenth-century letter to The Times in which a Scottish clergyman claimed to have seen a mermaid, Secrets of the Sea House is an epic, sweeping tale of loss and love, hope and redemption, and how we heal ourselves with the stories we tell.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 586 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Corvus (1 Aug 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,248 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A punch above your average beach read 13 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This haunting novel is a master in creating a sense of place and atmosphere.

Ruth and Michael have just moved into the dilapidated Sea House on the Hebridean Island of Harris. Everything should be perfect but Ruth feels she is being haunted and finds herself pushing her beloved Micheal away. While redecorating, the couple make a horrific discovery: buried beneath the floorboards are the tiny bones of a dead child. A mermaid child. Ruth cannot rest until she discovers why the poor creature was buried there.

In 1860 the young and handsome Reverend Alexander Ferguson struggles to find peace in his new home: the Sea House. Unaware of the suffering his landlord is causing to most the islands inhabitants, Alexander strives to discover the link between the recently sighted mermaid and his own Selkie history while being the rock of his new community. As he teaches his maid Moira to read and write, she begins to understand his own naivety which could lead to dangerous obsessions.

Gifford has weaved these two stories together with an experienced hand and shimmering thread. Spooky, intriguing and urgent, the book will keep you riveted to its satisfying conclusion. Ruth is an almost fatally flawed heroine whose strength of character sees her triumphing over many devastating discoveries; you feel proud of her by the end.

Dark and magical, the atmospheric story is a punch above your average beach read.

Reviewed by Nikki Mason on behalf of
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting tale. 8 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a debut you can't get better than this. The story has been well reviewed by others but I felt I needed to have my say too! I live in the Highlands and have spent time on Harris and Lewis so am familiar with this area. The sense of place this author has created within this story convey exactly the atmosphere on the Outer Hebrides. It's a very spiritual place with unforgiving weather and oodles of myths and legends floating around. The Selkie stories are rife in the Highlands alongside many other fantastical tales and the way this author has incorporated them into this tale is quite wonderful. I loved the back story of Alexander and Moira, the theme throughout of the fierce religious background which is prevelent on the Islands but it was softened so sweetly with some lovely prose and a beautiful imaginative storyline. Present day story and characters also were engaging as often with duel time frame, one of the stories overtakes the other. Not here; I was totally absorbed in this novel and hope the author has plans for more set in this wonderful mystic landscape, fabulous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and mesmerising 19 April 2014
By e1viss
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Elisabeth Gifford creates a very atmospheric story with characters one can relate to. The story stays with you after you finish it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful 12 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a gem of a book. So beautifully written and so many layers to it. Elizabeth Gifford has managed to draw characters I could believe in and painted a landscape that is so convincing I could almost feel I was there. I loved this book it is one of those rare books that you feel you want to treasure. Towards the end I was moved to tears by the beautiful way in which Gifford resolves her characters stories. I will have trouble now finding a book to compete with this. Thank you Elisabeth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly moving story 26 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This story touched me in a way I never expected it to - thanks to the extremely sensitive and insightful writing of Elisabeth Gifford. Having been brought up on Shetland, I have always been aware of selkie stories but what made this story stand out for me was the vulnerability of the human condition laid bare in all its strengths and weaknesses. For one of the characters this led him to a place where his very faith was tested to the limit,but I won't spoil it for a future reader by revealing the outcome.In summary, I found this a beautiful and unusual story and would highly recommend it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars House of Secrets 2 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have to admit that I was getting a bit tired of the dual-timeframe `buried secrets uncovered in an old house' type of novel, of which there seemed to be a flood a couple of years ago. However, this one caught my eye due to the remote Hebridean setting, and thankfully it turned out to be a cut above a lot of the genre. Some of the publicity has likened it to Rachel Hore's books, but I always find those a bit wishy-washy;`Secrets' is a much more literary, substantial read.

In the contemporary storyline, Ruth is renovating an old manse house on the Isle of Harris with her partner Michael. Buried beneath the floorboards they find a small chest which contains the remains of what at first appears to be a cat or other small creature, but on closer inspection turns out to be the skeleton of a baby whose legs were fused together like a mermaid. Ruth is a prickly and damaged woman, haunted by her troubled childhood. When she moves to Harris (which was her mother's birthplace) she has mixed feelings about delving too deeply into her ancestry and the reasons behind her mother's death, and instead focuses on finding out more about the child who was buried beneath her house.

In the historical thread, Alexander Ferguson is the well-meaning but slightly ineffectual curate who occupies the manse in the 1860s. This is at the time of the brutal clearances of Scottish islands by ruthless landlords who wished to use the land for grazing. The crofters and tenant farmers were evicted from the homes and forced to set sail for Canada, often dying en route due to the terrible conditions on board ship.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
A real page turner.
Buy it, you won't be disappointed.
Hopefully not too long to wait for next book.
Published 15 days ago by K Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
well written
compelling plot
haunting themes
interesting facts
recommended for book group as it will generate a lot of discussion
Published 17 days ago by UNA BRYCE
4.0 out of 5 stars great read
i really enjoyed this book and i loved the end i was not expecting that to happen will have to read more from this author
Published 28 days ago by madmumreader
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
An enjoyable light read. The story could have been developed some more to explore the relationships between Katriona and the fate of her baby with its adoptive parents. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Pat Marriage
4.0 out of 5 stars A highwayscribery Book Review
""The Sea House" is about the power of past events and forgotten people to influence lives in the present. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stephen Siciliano
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story
A good read, kept up my interest and would read another book by the author on the strength of this book
Published 1 month ago by C Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down
Exciting beautiful description of the outer Hebrides the story had unexpected twist. Interesting to learn about the Sami people. A great read
Published 1 month ago by Mrs.Madeleine Cannon
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it.
Mysterious, intriguing, an out of the ordinary book.I shall watch out for
Elisabeth Gifford.
Certainly a wordsmith of great talent. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Black Dog
4.0 out of 5 stars Kept my interest way past my bedtime!
Liked the way the author weave the story lines and kept the interest going. I usually like detective novels but found this a change and will look out for more works by this author
Published 2 months ago by Lynx young
4.0 out of 5 stars Holiday reading
Great book, especially if you enjoy the islands off the west coast of Scotland. I had no idea which way the story was going to take me but was very satisfied with the conclusion.
Published 2 months ago by Jon Watkins
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