Reviewed by Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team
Sue Brown is a good author. After this book, I’ve determined that I must go to Cornwall to see what it’s all about. How many books have I read set on the Cornish coast somewhere? It must be a magical place, not like its American equivalents, such as Cape Cod. I don’t think there is, emotionally, an American equivalent. Maybe the coast of Maine.
Gabriel Pennant is a graphic designer who lives in an isolated coastal village in Cornwall because his wife is a local. He and Jenny and their son Michael find complete happiness there, until a freak storm sweeps his wife and child away, leaving Gabriel irreparably broken, watching the sea from atop the cliff day after day, wondering if he shouldn’t just join his lost family in the waves below.
Then Gabriel spots a tiny white boat being tossed in the waves of another approaching storm and risks his life to rescue the young man he finds lying unconscious and half-drowned on its deck. It is this not-quite-magical event, the sea giving something back to a man from whom it has taken everything, that sets the narrative for the book. It’s a great set-up, made better by the vivid presence of Toby, Jenny’s twin brother, who is the town doctor, and the rescued man himself, known only as Sam because of his amnesia. Yeah, amnesia is such a classic romance trope, but used to great effect here.
Anyone who’s ever seen the UK television series “Doc Martin” knows something of village life on the Cornish coast. It is low-hanging fruit for a skilled novelist, especially if she can create characters that jump off the page and pull you into their fictional world. “Gabriel’s Storm” (and there’s a pun in there) is a perfect example of skill and setting used in a deft balance. It fulfills all its promises, yet also remains both plausible and fantastical at the same time.