Colourful and Evocative

  • Book: Secrets of the Sea House
  • Location: Isle of Harris
  • Author: Elisabeth Gifford

Review Author: Anne Cater



Secrets of The Sea House is a dual-time novel set on Harris, an island in the Hebrides. The story is played out an old, almost derelict house known locally as The Sea House. The modern story is related by Ruth who with her husband has bought the Sea House, they intend to renovate it and open it up as a guest house. Work comes to a halt when the remains of a small child are found, buried deep under the house. The bones are estimated to be over 100 years old, but it is the fact that the legs of the skeleton are fused together that is most unsettling for Ruth – could this be a ‘Selkie’, one of the seal people, a mermaid? Ruth is determined to find out more about her new home and it is when she starts to uncover the story that the reader is introduced to the Reverend Alexander Ferguson who was the parish priest and lived in the Sea House back in 1860.

This is a wonderfully colourful and evocative debut novel from an author who clearly knows and loves the Hebrides. The magical stories of the Selkies are cleverly woven throughout the story, adding to the mythical quality of the story and the flowing prose.

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

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Entries close 6th November 2021