You may remember I did an interview with Sara Bailey as she prepared for the launch of her first novel. I’ll attach a link at the bottom for those of you who missed it. Sarah and I met at a creative writing group over a year ago and quickly became friends as we share similar humour, stories, Orcadian husbands and even little black dogs with red collars! I was offered a copy of the book in exchange for a review, and I as delighted to do so. I was even more excited when Sara brought my copy over and pointed out an acknowledgement for me in the back. I needed peeling down from the ceiling as I was so delighted to see my name in a book, so I can’t imagine how Sara must be feeling right now to see her whole book in print. Something I hope to achieve in the future, but for now I’m delighted to share her joy and excitement. Before I go on with the review as part of the blog tour featured, I’ll just leave this here.
Dark Water is Sara Bailey’s first novel and set in Orkney. The author clearly knows her environment and describes Orkney landscape and life both accurately and interestingly.
The story is based around Helena as she returns to Orkney to care for her ailing father who has recently had a heart attack. The visit coincides with a school reunion which forces Helena to revisit her past where Helena’s best friend Anastasia goes missing following a night time swim at the ship wrecks and Helena was the last one to see her alive.
The book journeys between past and present as Helena meets friends and boyfriends from her teenage years and thoughts turn to the mysterious disappearance of Anastasia. Interwoven is the complexities of dealing with a sick father, a fragile relationship with her step-mother and questions about her birth mother’s death.
The relationship between Helena and Anastasia is at times dark and obsessive, as they navigate their way through teenage life, rights of passage, preparing for their future and getting first boyfriends.
Bailey’s first novel is chilling and well written and there were some beautiful lines throughout. It’s a slower paced book which seems to reflect life in Orkney, but there is enough suspense to keep you turning the pages. I don’t want to give any spoilers but the last paragraph was breathtaking. (And don’t even think about skipping to the end and spoiling it!)
It’s great to see Orkney on the map through books such as these. I felt there was scope for a second novel too so hope this is the beginning of something great from this author. If her debut novel is anything to go by, I suspect it is.
For my interview with Sara Bailey and a photo of the author, click on the link here