Desert Isle Keeper
Harper Fox’s mermaid fantasy, Priddy’s Tale is a luscious, sweet and sensual treat. Definitely a Desert Isle Keeper, the minus in the rating is only because I didn’t want the tale to end. I wanted to remain immersed and cossetted in the lovely prose and heartfelt romance.
Extract from WILD Southwest – Legends of the Cornish Coast, by Dr Christopher Berryman
There was once a young man who did a favour for a spirit of the sea.
That’s how a story like Priddy’s should start. But that sounds like another legend, a tall fish-tale in a land bursting with them. So I’ll begin more quietly like this…
I love novels that start like this. Immediately, the extract from a pseudo-academic work blurs the line between reality and fiction, setting the scene for this novel perfectly. Priddy, or Jem Priddy, comes from a long line of ne’er do wells and it seems from the outset that he will keep up this tradition, but there is something endearing about him. He has been abused at home by his Dad all his life and was taking steps with his best friend, Kit, to leave his home and past through education. Kit and his family have taken Priddy in many times during his childhood so that he could escape the drunken meanness of his father. However, as is the case in many seaside locations, the tourists and surfers who maintain their economy also bring drunken ‘fun’ and drugs.
Whilst out in a club celebrating the end of exams, Priddy who already knows the allure of drugs, takes something that has a terrible and lasting effect on him. As well as damaging him physically, it effectively puts an end to his plans for the future. Kit blames himself for Priddy’s personal tragedy and tries his best to help his friend before he leaves to study Marine Biology at University.
Kit arranges, with his lighthouse keeper grandad, for Priddy to stay in the local lighthouse as its keeper for a few months. The lighthouse is fully automated so there is little to do, or remember. Until one stormy night, when Priddy rescues ‘Merouac’ from drowning, or does he? It is indicated that maybe Priddy’s drug misadventure has caused brain damage and he often sees things that aren’t real. I liked to read it as being that Priddy now sees things that are real but in an unreal way. However, Merouac is gorgeous, strong, and despite nearly drowning, remains happy, witty and amazingly interested in Priddy. Although, he seems a little confused about the era, Merouac is in surprisingly good health and in no hurry to leave the cramped lighthouse.
For part of the novel the reader is unsure what is real and what isn’t, as though you are sharing Priddy’s permanent state of confusion. However, it is all joyous. The issue regarding drugs is a real one in seaside communities and it is by no means made light of in this story. Nevertheless, the main thrust of the tale is about redemption, love, and the choices we make in life. There is a gloriously happy ending, and metaphoric descriptions of underwater scenes, inhabitants and environments to make any Harper Fox fan very happy.
Dare I hope we will see more of Merouac and Priddy?
Harper Fox is a superb writer and a story teller with the unique ability to invest all her tales with a haunting quality that deserves an even wider audience and more plaudits. I recommend Priddy’s Tale to everyone.