My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a good story and a great premise – an aging World War II veteran telling wild tales that couldn’t possibly be true, with the (obviously touched up to appear supernatural) photos to ‘prove’ them; and his sixteen-year old grandson who has never faced a real challenge in his easy life.
Motivations and character quirks were believable and convincing: Jacob’s dad screeching with excitement when he spots a grace of Manx Shearwaters, seemingly oblivious to Jacob himself who’s nervous, seasick, cold, wet, and finally facing a serious challenge: birds being the last thing on his overworked mind.
And in a good way, you can actually sense Riggs’ thought process – he finds a bunch of strange photos and wants to spin a story that balances credibility with fantasy so he creates a world behind those photos, inventing strange characters and impossibilities to match. The wights of the story are a good example that shouldn’t spoil anything: you know those old black and white photos you see where something’s gone wrong in the processing and the subject’s eyes seem all-white? They’re wights. And they have a background and a reason for existence that Riggs has created. And they’re as evil and scary as they look.
Two parts felt forced though – without giving anything away there was a throwaway comment about an airport that jarred so much it screamed ‘clue’ and give away one of the big twists; and our attention drawn to a particular red LED light was so unsubtle it had only one obvious purpose, so I couldn’t help but glaze over the next few scenes until the purpose revealed itself.
For the most part though the story flows nicely, reads well, and follows its internal logic. The issues relating to time are handled exceptionally well. Characters have their own unique quirks and voices and I could relate to and understand most of their motivations.
This was definitely a book to get lost in, but I’m not driven to buy the next in the series.