Simon Sylvester - The Visitors (4 stars)

The Twitter storyteller's debut novel is is as dark, sad and enchanting as any fireside folk tale

Simon Sylvester - The Visitors

Flo sits on the headland of her island home, watching her new neighbours boat their belongings over the water to a rundown islet shack. She can’t quite put her finger on it but there is something strange about the pair of them; of course, what with all the disappearances lately, strange is fast becoming the norm on Bancree …

Ostensibly a missing-person mystery, The Visitors is anything but a standard thriller. Refreshingly character-driven, it is as much about growing up, the need for companionship and the power of all-consuming love. It is also a celebration of the oral tradition. Scottish folklore is weaved throughout, and it’s intoxicating; as the shennachie on the beach tells Flo his tales of the selkies, you can almost hear the campfire spark.

Simon Sylvester is no mean storyteller himself. Having honed his skills on Twitter, where he now has over a thousand 140-character stories to his name, his debut novel proves him equally at home with an unlimited word count. At its best, The Visitors is as dark, sad and enchanting as any fireside folk tale.

Published by Quercus on Thu 5 Jun.

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