Desert Isle Keeper
To misquote Renée Zellweger in the movie Jerry Maguire: You had me at custard creams!
Harper Fox knows just how to set a scene, a time and a location with a few carefully chosen words. Rather than a storyteller, she is a story-weaver, plucking words like threads, from childhood, mixed with teen angst, adult doubt, elderly wisdom and the stupidity and magic of the world, weaving it all into a tapestry representing a beautiful universal tale.
‘Oz’ Osman’s dad has left him, his Gran and his sister for a brand-new family abroad. His teenage sister is testing all her boundaries through rage and teenage hormones, but Oz is determined to cope and be what his family needs him to be – he’s sure he’s got everything under control. He’s given up the university course he loved and taken a boring, responsible job at a call centre, and he’s got it all covered. Doing everything his dad should’ve done, he’s drowning in unhappiness and responsibilities he shouldn’t have at his age. His wise Gran sees this and encourages Oz to be himself all she can – to no avail.
Oz has even let go of the love of his life. There is no room for Kip, especially in Oz’s new grown-up world. Kip is charm and trouble in equal measure, with a good dash of substance abuse and addiction thrown in. Oz thinks Kip is also ruining a brilliant career in biology because of his obsession with cryptids – monsters, as Oz calls them – myths and legends such as yetis, lake beasts and giant squids no sane man would waste his time chasing around the world for. Yes, Oz convinces himself he is better off without Kip.
His Gran remembers though, how happy Oz used to be with Kip at his side. With his best interests at heart – and a few schemes of her own – Gran sets the pair up for a reunion.
Kip and Oz have loved each other since the day they first met, but sometimes love just isn’t enough. Disaster strikes their second-chance relationship and Kip takes refuge at Camp Saorsa a remote community of cryptid hunters, near Scotland’s Loch Ness, who take freedom very seriously.
If there’s one thing Oz is definitely not about to believe in, it’s the Loch Ness monster. He’s not sure he believes in anything anymore, and his happy life with Kip feels like a lost dream. However, Oz is determined to find Kip and check on him, so he can move on with his life. En route, he discovers some truths he never expected about Kip, himself and what he needs from life.
Will the magic of a strange community in a Scottish winter be enough to draw these two lonely souls back together, and what mysteries lurk in the depths of the ancient loch? Most of this last sentence is from the author’s blurb, as I couldn’t put it better.
There is magic in this story, but it comes from belief, nature, love, tolerance and a couple of wise ladies. The cryptid community is mystical, down to earth and wonderful, and the characters, even those who have little page time, are properly fleshed out and full of life. As always with this author, her heart, emotions and those of her characters are revealed by the descriptions of the environs, be they terraced houses, a breeze block police house, nature’s cycles, or of course in this story, the Scottish Highlands, its’ castles and the beauty of Loch Ness.
I loved this novel and strongly recommended it. It’s definitely one for the Desert Island.
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