#20BooksOfSummer 17: Seaglass by Eloise Williams

#20BooksOfSummer is an annual event hosted by Cathy Brown of 746 Books and runs from 3rd June until 3rd September With the aim to clearing a target of 5, 10 or 20 books from your TBR but with very relaxed and fun rules.

Here is my joining post & List!

Book cover for Seaglass
Cover Design by Annie Glenn

This was a very sombre yet tender ghost story full of childhood innocence and how that can twist the perception into misunderstanding.

This is a perfect tale for Halloween, ghostly but not frightening, more about yearning than quaking in your boots. There are whispers of When Marnie was There in Lark’s age and intense anger, the ghostly girl in a seaside setting and abandoned house but no, this is not a sweet ghostly friendship- at least for our protagonist, but maybe felt like that at first for Snow.

Welsh coast
Ghostly girls

Lark’s parents have yanked the children out of school early to go to her grandmother’s childhood village on the Welsh coast for October half-term as a sort of last hurrah as Lark has heard the whispers that her mum is dying. But it’s all going to pot anyway because her younger sister Snow has become selective mute since Lark let it slip what was going on with mum, and dad is so wobbly with the whole thing that the whole family situation is a trembling ball of repressed rage and fear.

To make things worse, after stumbling upon a ruined cottage a ghostly girl has been haunting Lark, and Snow has been disappearing only to return and draw strange pictures of the ghostly girl… and then a local woman warns them of the ghost that is lonely, pining for and drawing young girls into the Woods never to be seen again. Could Snow be her next ‘friend’?

A burning cold shiver runs the length of my body again and I fold my goose pimpled arms against it as a wave of sadness washes over me.

This is more creepy in the imagery that ignited the imagination than in content so there’s nothing to worry about shocking or frightening content, the most frightening scenes would probably be the two summoning scenes and then they are more about the way the girls react than what actually happens.

I kind of like that, the way that it feeds and inspires your imagination to run away with itself much like a typical ghost story shared at a sleepover or round a campfire would.

Within both the present and the past the themes that stand out to me are about misunderstandings, the power of prejudice and the consuming nature of guilt.

Ten, you are not allowed to go ballistic.
Nine, where can I go for a walk on my own without getting into trouble?
Eight, no way am I going to the beach after what Mam-gu said about helping that girl.
Seven, remember to breathe.

Lark’s anger causes people to misunderstand her intentions and behaviours and in turn she misunderstands others comments and behaviours through her fear and vulnerability.

She is so determined to be strong and dependable to her family, but is angry about HAVING to be a caring figure and equally is so focused on being cool and aloof she is incandescent with repressed rage that she cannot be herself with her lifelong companions (if she wouldn’t consider them friends) that she is blind to the truths in front of her.

Equally prejudice plays a role in the plot with misunderstandings and jingoistic discrimination in our ghost story and blatent racism in Lark’s mirrored event. Yet equally Williams picks at the simple prejudices that occur within close knit communities such as who is the nerd, who is always mean, the leader, the clown and so forth betray how people can grow, evolve and change, and remain at the same time yet underneath those roles be more empathetic than how one previously thought of them. How our expectations of others based on previous behaviour can blind us to the truth.

She has weals on her fingers from the bag handles. I should be able to protect her more.
I should never have told her that Mam was dying. I should have kept it from her, like big sisters are supposed to do. She is only eight and I have already bulldozed through her life with my extra massive gob.

And guilt. Guilt is a terrible terrible burden and we see it etching on three generations across this novel. Lark is poisoning herself with guilt, guilt for being angry at her mums situation and guilt at needing her, guilt for upsetting her sister, guilt for being jealous of her friend and guilt for being angry and making a mess all the time.

We see her spiralling through the novel her anger and guilt about her anger locked in a tango that dances across her waking moments and it’s hurting her. You just want to hug her and help her take down her walls before she turns into a vengeful spirit herself.

It’s a powerful novel that discusses the need for self care and supportive mental health within families too and the struggles of close relationships within a phantasmagoric setting- and no the ghost isn’t a hallucination- and about how regrets can be so painful if not released they can echo through time.

Seaglass by Eloise Williams is published by Firefly Press.

6 thoughts on “#20BooksOfSummer 17: Seaglass by Eloise Williams

    1. Thank you, i actually really enjoyed the sense of confusion and distractions that obscure the ghostly part of the story, it’s far more real of how teenagers would react and has a coming of age ‘buddy’ film feel to it alongside the ghostly plot

      Liked by 1 person

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