Foam on the Crest of Waves – Silke Stein


*I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley, with thanks to the author.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*


Foam on the crest cover
Blurb:  Can facing the past transform the present?

In a small fishing town on the Mendocino coast, the tides of time have washed over rumours and suspicions, yet the members of a maimed family still struggle to cope with their memories.

A broken woman, refusing to let go of her vanished husband.Her widowed brother, clinging to the shatters of the life he loved.His delusional daughter, planning to turn mermaid on her fifteenth birthday. But when a young man realizes he made a mistake, secrets start emerging from the deep.

Will they bring further grief, or possibly redemption?


The lasting impression left by Foam on the Crest of Waves is one of breathtaking beauty and rich sensuousness of the ocean and life under it: all jewelled hues, salty fresh scents and tastes, and liquid silk slipping over the skin.  Oh, and death.  Overshadowing everything like the darkness cast beneath the hull of a fish-hunting trawler.

This is a reimagining of the story of the Little Mermaid, but what a reimagining!  Abalone, our teenage protagonist, traumatised by an incident seven years previously which took her mother and caused her uncle to vanish no longer speaks.  Viewing the humans surrounding her as mere ‘Props’ she longs to return to the water and join the merfolk she feels kinship with; to be reunited with her lost loved ones.

In addition to Abalone’s perspective we also see events through the eyes of her father, Jeremy, who lost his wife and looks on helplessly as his daughter is slipping away; her aunt Gina, Jeremy’s sister, who supports her brother and niece whilst waiting for her husband and life to return; Leif, who at first is at odds with the strange girl of the sea, but then finds himself drawn to her mystery, pulling him from his own troubles and into a surreal world where dreams can be sung into life.  (We also get a few cameo views from cameraman Dan, voyeuristically following events and characters from a distance as he ponders the unfolding events, but I didn’t really feel he was a fully fleshed character or that his perspective brought much to the story.)

Of course, similarly to the original source material, most of the problems the characters face here could be resolved by just a little communication with each other, but, each scarred and broken in their own ways the author shows how grief and bitterness has turned them inward and away from each other, and how very dangerous that can be if the fantasy world therein remains undiluted by the cold water of reality.  I felt horrified by the way grief causes Abalone to detach so thoroughly from reality, and angry with Jeremy and Gina for allowing it; even as I sympathised with them for not knowing how best to deal with her whilst trapped in their own bubbles of misery.

The plot is haunting and twists, taking us back between memories of the past and events in the present; showing patterns and cycles as clear and chaotic as the rhythms of the tides.  The finale and epilogue are masterful, bringing the storyline to a satisfying conclusion, drawing so smoothly to a natural close that I almost missed the ominous shadow lurking in the still waters.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the story long after I had put it down, as my imagination followed the author’s lead into the future for the characters and the final pieces slotted into the puzzle.

I would definitely recommend this story, and any others by Silke Stein after also having read Sleep, Merel, Sleep!  I can’t wait to see what she writes next…


   Down here, we don’t use words.  Yet they lie in wait, in the niches of my brain, ready to crawl out and gather, unbidden, unwanted, whenever I try to forget them and become one with the world I love.  How can I describe the peace surrounding me with blunt expressions that tarnish its beauty?
How can I praise the soothing cool, the colors of the anemones, my finned companions, without employing the only language I know?
During the last seven years, I have mastered silence – learned to ignore my tongue, as I could not rid myself of it.  I never speak to the Props; however, I have no choice but to think their thoughts.  That is, until I meet my people.  They will teach me their ways and words, and call me by my true name.

– Silke Stein, Foam on the Crest of Waves


foam on the crest author picFind more from Silke Stein at her website here or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and don’t forget to check out my review of children’s book Sleep, Merel, Sleep by the same author!

Foam on the Crest of Waves is available on Amazon right now!



foam on the crest other works

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