The Secret of Helena's Bay (by Sally Quilford)

I came across Sally Quilford a couple of years ago, when I started following her blog, and took part in an online workshop there. I've read and enjoyed her column in the Writers' Forum magazine too, so was interested to hear that she had a pocket novel published last year. Unfortunately I couldn't get hold of it, so I was delighted when I read that it was available for the Kindle, at a very reasonable price.

'The Secret of Helena's Bay' is about Shelley, a young woman who is on a package holiday on a small Greek island. It's a fairly active holiday, with some sight-seeing, and some classes in local crafts, but she doesn't really feel part of the group. She's had a very tough year, and wouldn't be in Greece at all if it weren't for her mother. She's fairly angry with people in general, and determined not to trust any more men... but she does find herself rather attracted to the only other young person on the holiday: one of the staff, with the slightly unlikely name of Paris.

Odd things seem to be happening. Shelley meets an elderly man, but nobody else seems to have seen him. She finds some letters, and then they vanish. There are some archaeologists digging on the other side of the island, but they don't really seem genuine. Shelley almost begins to wonder if she's going crazy - and even Paris doesn't appear to believe her.

Despite it being a short novel - pocket novels only have around 30,000 words, considerably shorter than a normal novel - the characterisation is good, and I found myself feeling the suspense, turning my Kindle pages and reading for rather longer periods than I had intended. There's just the right amount of description to set the scene, without it becoming boring, and although inevitably with such a short novel, there aren't many subplots, there was plenty to keep me interested.

The ending was somewhat predictable; I even guessed what the 'secret' would be before it was finally revealed, after a tense climax... but I very much enjoyed reading it, and would recommend it to anyone who likes realistic women's fiction with a touch of suspense.

The links at the sides are to the Kindle editions (UK and USA), but it's also possible to buy The Secret of Helena's Bay in large print book form.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 15th January 2011

1 comment:

Quillers said...

Thank you so much for this positive, but balanced review of The Secret of Helena's Bay, Sue. It really helps to know what worked and what didn't.