Sea of Secrets by Amanda DeWees
Book Description: Can I save him from the darkness in his soul–or will it destroy us both?
My name is Oriel Pembroke–or was, until my father disowned me. Although he had always despised me, it was not until my beloved brother was killed in the Crimean War that Father cast me out. I had nowhere to turn until I met the former Duchess of Ellsworth, a relative whose existence I had never guessed, who recently scandalized society by remarrying soon after her first husband’s death. At her opulent seaside estate, Ellsmere, I think at first that I may have found a safe haven–but the handsome, fascinating young duke, Herron, believes otherwise. Haunted by the death of his father, he insists that Ellsmere is sheltering a murderer.
I cannot help but fall in love with the duke, but increasingly I fear that his grief and suspicion may be turning to madness. When dangerous accidents start to befall both of us, however, I realize that someone may be trying to stop us from discovering the truth about the past. And when someone from my past comes back into my life, I learn that he may hold the answer to the most horrifying secret of all…
My Review: The book says it’s a retelling of Hamlet but I think this book is part Hamlet and part Jane Eyre. Amanda DeWees mixes the two easily and the result is astounding.
This story is beautifully written. It’s very atmospheric. Most importantly there is an excellent cast of character. This book is less Hamlet when you take cast size into consideration. I don’t know about you but I have to refer to who is who when I read Hamlet because there are so many characters involved. Like Hamlet, however, the relationships are complicated. Also like Hamlet the crazy goes on for a beat too long which tells me this author knows her Hamlet inside and out if she was willing to stick to it. What I mean by a beat to long is that we’re pretty sure that Hamlet is mad from the beginning. In this book we know that Herron is mad because he exhibits Hamlet’s characteristics. We also know he’s mad because Amanda DeWees, like the bard, wanted us to have that extra moment of is he really crazy? Could he be sane or is Hamlet a genius and toying with everyone?
There are also parallels between Ophelia and Oriel. There is a great scene towards the end of the book where Oriel is floating in the water. It’s a great scene.
I have to say that I think there may be a smattering of Georgette Heyer or Jane Austen in there also. I wasn’t sure about Charles. There were points where I thought he held some responsibility in the mystery and then there were times I didn’t. You’ll see who Charles is when you read the book. And you will want to read this book. This one is going into the pile of books that stay with me forever. I loved it that much. What it comes down to is that this is a great gothic novel. It even has a great ending.
Fun Fact: Here is a bit of vampire book history for you. Oriel reads Varney the Vampire in this novel. Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood by James Malcolm Rymer is a real book. It was a penny dreadful serial in the mid 1840’s. It was packaged up and published as a book when the serial came to an end in 1847. Something like Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. And just like A Tale of Two Cities Varney is very long (232 chapters not including the preface and notes at the end) so be prepared if you pick it up in the Kindle store because the serial ran for a couple of years.
See Jessica. I don’t hate romance. I just like mine with crashing waves and a bit of murder.
PG- Did I mention there was murder and madness.
Background Image: Scotland by FrankWinkler