'What a glorious, beautiful sea-shanty of a book this is. A fairy tale of wild, sea-swept children and wolfish fear. Written in a compelling, rushing language.' Daisy Johnson, author of the Man Booker-longlisted Everything Under
Ellie Fleck has a question for everything, except the one she cannot ask.
Where have they taken her mother?
Ten years old and irrepressibly curious, Ellie lives with her fisherman father, Peter, on the wild North Yorkshire coast. It’s the 1980s and her mother’s breakdown is discussed only in whispers, with the promise ‘better by Christmas’ and no further explanation.
Steering by the light of her dad’s sea-myths, her mum’s memories of home across the water, and a fierce spirit all her own, Ellie begins to learn – in these sudden, strange circumstances – who she is and what she can become. By the time the first snowdrops show, her innocence has been shed, but at great cost.
The dramatic and metaphorical strands of Marcus’s narrative are densely woven, and Ellie is a winning protagonist… But it is the sensitively drawn sorrows and vulnerabilities of the novel’s adults that are perhaps most affecting
A magic-tinged look at adult problems through the eyes of a child.
A soaring success; beautiful and devastating… In graceful prose, Marcus sketches an image of the North Yorkshire coast then adds the snap of the cold wind, the sting of sea spray, the hotness of welling tears. The book is stunningly evocative – of a time, of a place, of childhood, and of what it means not to fit in… This book is beautiful, from cover to core.
A poignant and powerful exploration of mental health, poverty and identity, all seen through the eyes of a child… Marcus builds a compelling world which combines the mundane with the mystical, the domestic with the mythic… Marcus has created a memorable young heroine who possesses the same kind of innocent intelligence, forthright self-assurance and aching vulnerability as Harper Lee’s Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird… A heart-warming and deeply affecting portrayal of a very special father-daughter relationship
In How Saints Die Carmen Marcus announces herself as a powerful and original talent. This is a novel as restless, as seductive and as dangerous as the sea that forms the backdrop to the story, while in Ellie Fleck Marcus has created one of the great child protagonists. A compelling story with a warm heart written in language that is both vivid and raw. I loved this book.