This is a novel that confounds expectations. A story that appears to be a wicker man themed thriller develops with the introduction of a very unexpected character two thirds of the way through (no plot spoiler this) and takes the reader in directions both unexpected and tricky to absorb. I found myself checking back towards the end to make sure I had understood completely and for that I gave this four stars but the author is to be congratulated on creating something of a unique experience. Having experienced remote Scottish islands myself and yet not this remote I was easily transported to the place and absorbed into the foggy horrors that unfold. If you like your reads twisty and brain stretching then this is for you. This was a different kind of book, a wonderful mystery in the mould of the Wicker Man; we are enveloped in another tight-knit and intense community, this time on Fetlar a small island which is part of Shetland. The story follows Fruma, a retired teacher who is holidaying on the island and in need of some time to come to terms with where she is in her life. Soon though strange things begin to happen, both generally and to Fruma in particular. Something untoward is going on, what are the mysteries of Papil Water and what is the Black Water that has suddenly appeared? And how does this tie into a missing man who went missing years before? Her dreams become vivid and invested with numbers and recurrent images which mean nothing to her at first. But gradually, with the help of the local vicar Fruma begins to see her connections are more deeply embedded in this island than she could have possibly anticipated and all point to the Adderstane, a prophecy that apparently is meaningless but is, of course, anything but.
This is an intense read, one that has you checking back to make sure you haven’t missed something important. It breaks several ‘rules’ in its storytelling that might not suit everyone but add to the overall sense that this is really happening and not just a story, if only we had the whit and imagination to hear what these ancient rocks might tell us. In a way it is hard to say I ‘enjoyed’ this book in a traditional sense because that would suggest that when I finished it I stopped wondering about it. You really do want to believe the truth behind it, the stories that are hidden in folklore and fairy stories. If you like something a bit different then this might well be for you.