Just hours after his wife and her entire family perish in the Christmas Eve tsunami in Brisbane, American expat and former police officer Frank Mercy goes out to join his volunteer rescue unit and pulls a little boy from a submerged car, saving the child’s life with only seconds to spare. In that moment, Frank’s own life is transformed. Not quite knowing why, Frank sidesteps the law, when, instead of turning Ian over to the Red Cross, he takes the boy home to the Midwestern farm where he grew up. Not long into their journey, Frank begins to believe that Ian has an extraordinary, impossible telepathic gift; but his only wish is to protect the deeply frightened child. As Frank struggles to start over, training horses as his father and grandfather did before him, he meets Claudia, a champion equestrian and someone with whom he can share his life—and his fears for Ian. Both of them know that it will be impossible to keep Ian’s gift a secret forever. Already, ominous coincidences have put Frank’s police instincts on high alert, as strangers trespass the quiet life at the family farm.
The fight to keep Ian safe from a sinister group who want him back takes readers from the ravaged shores of Brisbane to the middle of America to a quaint English village. Even as Frank and Claudia dare to hope for new love, it becomes clear that they can never let Ian go, no matter what the cost. A suspenseful novel on a grand scale, Two If by Sea is about the best and worst in people, and the possibility of heroism and even magic in ordinary life.
Song for This Book: All The Pretty Little Horses
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster Canada through Goodreads Giveaways.
There were lots of great things about this book, and a fair few things that bothered me too. There were some lovely dynamics with the people and the animals in the story, some very well developed characters, and fantastic settings throughout.
I love a good story about children with supernatural abilities. And this book definitely delivers on that front. It was a surprisingly nice change of pace with this book, because the fact that Ian and his older brother Colin had abilities was not a big deal to anyone in the book. Okay, it was a big deal, but Ian and Colin the children were so much more important than Ian and Colin with cool abilities. After reading a lot of books where the ‘special’ characters were set apart for one reason or another, this was a really nice change.
That being said, it really bugged me that no one was making a big deal about the things that were happening in this book. I won’t say too much about this, because I don’t want to ruin it if you’re planning to read this one. But seriously. Things are going down. You need to be worried about this. Please be worried about these children.
I could spend all day talking about the two kids in this book, so I’ll pause my rant a bit (a few exceptions below) to go over the positives and negatives about this one.
The Good Points of Two If By Sea:
The two children were really the highlight of this book. Kids in books often act older than typical children their age would in real life, but not these two. Ian is such a typical preschooler, in action, intention, and desires. Colin tends to act a bit older, but he was also given the impression that he needed to take care of Ian. They’re both incredibly well developed characters, and they were so much fun to follow through the story.
The writing throughout the book, even in the dull parts, was gorgeous, but also incredibly easy to read. It’s one of those books that felt effortless to read.
The way that grief was handled throughout the book – and it was a large part of the story – was beautiful. Grief can come off as tacky or fake or overdone in writing, but it’s presented as a driving force and the focus is really placed on coping and dealing.
The Downsides of Two If By Sea:
The first 100-odd pages dragged like crazy. There was a lot going on, and it was obviously setting up for what was coming next, but it took a while it get into. It did pick up very quickly after those 100 pages though.
The pacing through this book felt weird to me. It would be slow, only to pick up for a couple chapters, and then slow down again. If not for the fact that I was determined to find out what happens to the kids, I probably would have DNF-ed the book temporarily because of this.
It seemed like Frank got Ian out of Australia and into the United States far too easily. I know it’s a story and that there were supernatural forces involved, but for the level of reality that this book had, it felt like there should have been more of a fight for it. Maybe this is just me being fussy, but it irked me for a bit.
All in all, I enjoyed this book. Despite some little things that bugged me, the characters were fantastic, and the story was good. The one thing that really stood out to me when I finished reading it was that this is one of those books I need to come back to when I am a bit older. With the adult characters being in a very different life position than I am now, I think some aspects of the book went right over my head. So it will take up residence on my shelf, and I’ll give it another try in a few years, and see if my rating and opinions change.
This was a surprisingly tricky review to write. I hadn’t expected that. Have any of you read this? What did you think?