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Novel set in the Indian Ocean (“pirates, riots, rum and mercenaries”)

8th March 2016

Beyond The Surf by hwneild, novel set in the Indian Ocean.

Once in a while we like to help bring debut authors into the spotlight. The publishing industry is so hard for many early days writers, so we are keen to try and do our bit!

Thus it was we came across hwneild’s “Beyond the Surf” and it was the really stunning and eye-catching cover, a woodcut print possibly, with a pleasing combination of colours, and a hint of setting (Africa), that initially drew us to this title. Really imaginative. Oh, and I fancied finding out a bit more about kite surfing!



Kayte King is invited to the fictional Martinez Islands as part of a tourism drive, so that she can make an attempt on her own kite surfing speed record. Set in the Indian Ocean these tropical islands comprise “Two little full stops and a big comma, 500 miles off the coast of Africa“. There is a charming hand drawn map of the islands at the beginning of the book but unfortunately due to the binding, the two smaller islands – the little full stops in other words – were pretty inaccessible as they are tightly bound into the spine of my copy. This perhaps was an early indicator of things to come.

As far as the location goes, what’s not to like? The author certainly brings a lush, steamy setting to life, with an added dash of political turmoil, poverty, bright colours, smells, lapping seas, pirates and a bit of humour. All good so far.

My first impression was that this might be a novel for Young Adults, because of the writing style. However I was soon disabused of this when scenes of heavy drinking started to appear, coupled with imaginings of an intimate nature; and throughout the novel there is a wealth of expletives – only they actually appear in the book as f-ing,  f-k, sh-t and w-ker. I guess my view is that if these words are necessary and fundamental to the storyline, then please don’t pussyfoot around as an author, just go for it. As it is, it smacks of coy, adolescent prurience. In light of that, it is a book that is perhaps more coming of age

However, I then came to the conclusion that this novel could be categorised as a tongue-in-cheek adventure/thriller. After all there is a character called Mr Toyful, and when Kayte is searching the hotel for her boyfriend Steve (who unfortunately for her is also on the trip and seems to have gone temporarily AWOL) she discovers “from the receptionist, that him and Jim were last seen half an hour ago“. Okay, benefit of the doubt, this is probably meant to be a bit of rhyming humour, a little local ‘patois’ perhaps, and not a grammatical hiccup…

Included in the plot is a potentially interesting mix of foreigners, who define themselves by speaking with stereotypical strange accents, thus there is a lot of zis, zey and zat. One character goes on to say: “Canna you belieb it?” (Well, yes, I can). And as for the descriptions of identikit American troopers, they are mildly amusing. We all know what Terminator and Action Man look like.

However, throughout the book there is a peppering of typos (“…come on, lets try there…“…won’t be here for the baby is born…” “Are we’re sure that’s been done”…”The was sun really beginning to penetrate now…”) and, teeth gnashing grammatical errors: “Do you think you’re boat can take me over?” Aargh! Always, always engage the services of a professional proof reader and ensure they have a competent reputation. A couple of typos one can live with, but multiple errors really affect the reading experience. I hasten to add that I was not working from a proof copy.

There are similes aplenty, which are a question of personal taste, and there is fairly frequent use for dialogue openers of the word Hungh (if you are not familiar with this opener, then the Urban Dictionary explains that it is ‘An exclamation typically used to invoke confusion. Usually screamed loudly for best effect’).

What of the storyline, I hear you ask? Well, Kayte is in the dying stages of a relationship with Steve (an ex kite surfer himself). They arrive on the idyllic islands, but early on see that something is very amiss. She and fellow American kite surfer Chuck start riding the waves, and with each trial, the knots are increased. That is excellent news. But unrest means they have to cancel their attempts – the big question is, will they be able to continue, and can Kayte break her record? Eventually they all go home and Kayte gets to spend some time with her Mum who embarks on a new relationship (which for me has rather creepy overtones given what has been going on earlier in the storyline, that’s all I can say here)….. And, finally, Kayte is looking at a new job opportunity.

All in all the storyline never really goes anywhere.

If you are a kite surfer you might like to take a punt on this novel, as Dreya Wharry, World Record-Breaking Kitesurfer on the back cover is quoted as saying: “Plenty of loops and jumps to keep readers guessing. Fans of kitesurfing will love this debut novel”!

Tina for the TripFiction Team

You can follow hwneild on Twitter and via his website

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And for more books set in the Indian Ocean, just click here.




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  1. User: Lainy SMBSLT

    Posted on: 08/03/2016 at 12:29 pm

    Apologies, two windows open at the same time, meant to type lovely post on TF, haven’t been here for ages, thanks for reminding me to visit.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysrerading.net


  2. User: Lainy SMBSLT

    Posted on: 08/03/2016 at 12:28 pm

    Love an honest review, I think this will appeal to so many, but it is not for me.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

    P.s visiting from BC on Facebook 😀 lovely blog!


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