Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hy Brasil by Margaret Elphinstone

Having enjoyed The Sea Road last fall, I was delighted to come across another Elphinstone book in a used bookstore not too long ago. With great anticipation, I packed it into my suitcase for some good holiday reading.

I have to admit that for quite a few chapters, I couldn't quite work out what type of novel I was reading. The Sea Road is a beautifully written piece of historical fiction; Hy Brasil is something quite different. Hy Brasil is a fictional mid-Atlantic island nation, populated with the descendents of pirates and shipwreck survivors. Sidony Redruth becomes fascinated with the place and manages to convince a publisher to give her an advance to write a travel guide. When she arrives in Hy Brasil, she meets Jared Honeyman, a young man obsessed with finding Spanish treasure amid the many shipwrecks surrounding his home country. The narrative switches back and forth between Sidony's and Jared's perspectives, as they both become caught up in a deadly series of political events that threaten to expose some secrets that have been hidden nearly as long as the treasure Jared seeks on the ocean floor.

Once I got caught up in this book, I found I couldn't put it down. The characters are well drawn and realistic, and the culture of Elphinstone's fictional nation is both believable and fascinating. I managed to pick up another of this author's elusive novels at a bookstore in York, so you can expect to read about it here very soon.

No comments: