Planting Pearls – Virginia King

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

Blurb: A new name and a new home.

A scary ex-husband …

And a ghost.

When Selkie Moon escapes her controlling husband to start a new life in Hawaii, she’s under pressure to support herself with her new business, stay hidden from her ex, and trust her new friends.

She doesn’t expect to get tangled in a so-called haunting!

What happened at the old Honolulu house back in 1961, when Elvis was shooting Blue Hawaii?

Do the weird experiences of the new owners and their five-year-old daughter mean they’ve interrupted a ghost?

As she delves into the mystery, Selkie gets caught up in something that’s way beyond her skill-set. Are there dark forces at work and is a child in danger? Or is something else going on?

If you love mysteries with lightning pace, twists and turns you never see coming, quirky clues and a sprinkling of the supernatural, then you’ll love Planting Pearls.

Planting Pearls is the prequel novella to the Selkie Moon series of books and, as such, can be read before the other books in the series – it makes a handy introduction to the characters, style and themes – or as a bonus extra if you have already read the rest of the series so far.

The story takes us back to Selkie’s arrival in Hawaii, as she flees from her psychologically abusive husband and her old life of living to please others. As a long-term fan of the series, it is both fascinating and shocking to look back on the main character’s development and see where she started from and how far she has come (literally, as well as emotionally!).

There is a real feeling of wonder and mystery about the stories in this series, and this novella is no exception. The reader gets to know the unique setting, culture and people of Hawaii along with Selkie, and is slowly eased into her world of enhanced perception and mythological realism.

Part of the story here focuses on domestic abuse and control, and while Selkie’s husband initially casts an oppressive cloud over her fresh start, it is like a breath of fresh air to see how she gradually begins to let go of his hold on her, regardless of his actions. The rest of the storyline present a neat mini-mystery about a young girl and her rabbit, and some disturbing dreams. As usual for this series, Virginia King leaves it up to the reader (and characters) to decide where to draw the line between paranormal influences and fortuitous (or not!) coincidences – everything can be, and is, explained, but you can choose the explanation that satisfies you the most.

Packed with symbolism, connections and multiple layers of meaning, this series is unique and very engaging, and I would recommend it for anyone looking for a great, well-written, character-centred story. This novella is a particularly good way to test the waters before diving into the Selkie series, or to dip deeper into the backstory for fellow fans.

“These islands are populated by all kinds of strange spirits,” he says. “Welcome to Hawaii, Selkie. The initiation usually waits a few weeks till you’ve settled in. Unless you’re a magnet for the paranormal. With a name like Selkie, does it give you second sight?”

My laugh sounds fake to my ears.

– Virginia King, Planting Pearls

Find more from Virginia King here, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out my review of Laying Ghosts in my Short Story Special here, my review of the folktale companion story collection Leaving Birds here, my review of The First Lie (Selkie Moon Book 1) hereThe Second Path here and The Third Note here.

Planting Pearls is available on Amazon right now!


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