Pros: Incredible characterization; utterly moving story; fascinating world
Rating: 5 out of 5
When I reviewed Virginia Kantra’s Sea Witch, I gushed over just how thoroughly it enthralled me. At the risk of repeating myself, Sea Fever beguiled me to the point where I could hardly do anything else. Since I can’t read in a moving car, I stole reading moments at a gas station yesterday. I read standing up while I waited for one of our finicky cats to finish eating dinner last night, and then had trouble putting the book down so I could go to bed, even though it was late. I read through breakfast this morning, through coffee… I couldn’t rest until I knew what happened next, and next after that, and finally, how the story ended.
World’s End is a small island in Maine where everyone knows everyone else. Regina left the island to find a life as a cook elsewhere, then returned after giving birth to her son, Nick, whose father had no interest in him. She lives a tense and uncomfortable life arguing with her mother and helping to run her mother’s restaurant, while trying to do what’s best for her son. The only decent, eligible man on the island just got married—an event which Regina catered—leaving her with little hope of ever finding someone for herself. And in a half-drunk moment of loneliness and desire, she allows herself to be seduced by Dylan Hunt, the mysterious brother of the groom who has only recently returned to the island.
Dylan is a selkie, an immortal sea creature who lives as a seal in the water but can take human form on land. He was born human, however, not discovering his true nature until he was thirteen years old, when he and his selkie mother vanished from the island, leaving behind his father, brother, and sister. He returned recently to help another selkie, Margred, and his brother, Caleb Hunt, defend against a demon. His dalliance with Regina was meant to be a simple night of pleasure—until he needs an excuse to return to the island to guard against another demon, and finds that Regina is an all-too-alluring excuse indeed.
Of course, nothing could possibly be that straightforward. Regina might already be pregnant from their first encounter. She’s a proud, defiant, and stubborn woman who won’t simply go along with whatever Dylan might want. And the demon might be planning something unexpected…
Sea Fever continues the beautiful world and story begun in Sea Witch, telling its own interwoven tale with all the power and grace of that first story. For those who enjoyed Caleb and Maggie’s tale in the first book, both characters put in a good handful of appearances in this story, including one or two intimate moments to allow us to experience how their relationship is growing. The story focuses on Dylan and Regina this time, however, and they are as different from Caleb and Maggie as night and day.
One of the things I was so impressed by in Sea Witch was Ms. Kantra’s ability to depict the immortal Selkie Maggie and her struggle to adapt to human life. Dylan’s issue is altogether different: he wants to believe he is a cold and unfeeling selkie, but his first thirteen years as a human ensured that couldn’t possibly be the case. He’s older than his brother Caleb, but his abrupt early departure from human society combined with his mother’s death kept him from ever learning the adult niceties of human society and emotions. In some ways he’s old and powerful, and in others he’s young and inexperienced. Ms. Kantra has once again done an amazing job of getting into the head of someone decidedly different and beautifully conveying their struggles with humans and human life.
Regina is a wonderful heroine. She’s a single mother, a hard worker, stubborn and proud and able to take care of herself. She’d enjoy having a partner to share that life with, but she can’t bring herself to trust someone to stick around and stay with her—particularly not Dylan, who takes pride in having no attachments. Of course their mutual attraction doesn’t listen to reason, and watching them each try to come to grips with their feelings is moving, heart-breaking, and beautiful.
There’s plenty of plot and heart-stopping worry to keep the pace moving forward and your fingers turning the pages. I had incredible difficulty putting this book down, always wanting to know how the current situation would resolve itself, always wanting to read just one more page. And when I reached the end, I’m not ashamed to say I cried like a baby.
While I’m too wrapped up in these books to say for sure one way or the other whether the books could be taken separately, I’d highly recommend making sure you read them both, in order. Both books are equally superlative, and there’s quite a bit of background in the first book that leads into the second.
There’s no second-novel slump for this trilogy, and dear lord I’m having difficulty waiting for the third book! If Ms. Kantra’s writing is always this good, I’ll be reading every one of her books!
(Usual adult material warning: explicit, sizzling sex scenes.)