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6 February 2014

Pelican Bay
Jesse Giles Christiansen
Imajin Books
Publication Date
18 Nov 2013

--The old man and the sea-- (Sorry, yes, I know, different book and author, but I couldn't resist - this would be my tag line for this book)

If you love stories set in present day with a supernatural element, than this is the book for you. This is what pulled me into the story and kept me entertained right to the end.

Pelican Bay is a small seaside town which has previously experienced deadly storms and hurricanes and many of its inhabitants have lost their life due to the hurricanes or in the sea. Our main protagonist is Ethan Hodges, a writer who has lived in Pelican Bay all his life. His parents died 'out at sea' and his grandmother Sidney lovingly brought him up. And Ethan is also deeply in love with local girl Morgan, the town librarian, but she appears not to return his love. And than there is Captain Shelby. He is a local fisherman who sleeps out in his boat, very old and weatherbeaten and somewhat of an oddball and eccentric. Already as a young boy, Ethan formed a friendship with Captain Shelby who takes him out fishing and they both enjoy their shared love of the sea. Captain Shelby does not have any other friends or family, and townspeople just seemed to be 'creeped out' by him.

One day after a storm Ethan spots some large stones in the sea near the shoreline who seemed to have appeared out of no-where. When investigating, Ethan finds them to be gravestones and his curiosity is raised. Captain Shelby tells him 'to leave the past alone'. But than Morgan looks up old town records and they cannot locate anything relating to Captain Shelby. Ethan's grandmother says that he was already a very old man when she was a schoolgirl. There are rumours and legends in town about Captain Shelby, and Ethan and Morgan start to suspect that all is not as it seems with him and he may have been around a lot longer than this, our century. Ethan will eventually have to decide whether to stand by his oddball friend. And him and Morgan? Well, you'll have to see. 

My favourite element within the book is the relationship between Ethan and Captain Shelby. Without giving away too much, I think I only fully appreciated it at the end of the book. I also liked the language used by Captain Shelby which, as the author explains in the addendum, is Old Newfoundland English phrases which were to a degree translated into modern English. Now this will not distract you from the book at all, as Ethan is the narrator and it adds a lot of character to the old man, in fact I've 'heard' him speaking and it really brought him to life for me. My favourite example is the word 'Ducky' - a word used for a female friend. Is that sweet or what? 

Anything I didn't like? Not really. It took me a chapter or so to get into the book and get used to the 'scenery' of the fishing town but that was quickly achieved. The book is not too long and therefore did not stall. 

If you like the sea and/or stories in a modern setting with a supernatural /mystery element than I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. Captain Shelby's character will stay in my memory for a bit, and that is always a sign of a good book for me. 

Please note: I have received this book from the author in return for an honest review. 

Taken from Amazon:

About the Author

Jesse Giles Christiansen is an American author who writes compelling literary fiction that weaves the real with the surreal. He attended Florida State University where he began writing short stories and exposing himself to the great literary classics, his greatest influences at the time consisting of London, Hemingway, and Wilde. He received his B.A. in English literature in 1993.

He wrote his first novel, About: Journey into the Mystic after spending a summer in Alaska working on fishing boats. His newest novel, Pelican Bay, part of a series, focuses on a mysterious old fisherman and the unforgettable lessons he imparts on an eccentric, nosy, sea-battered beach town.

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