*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
I enjoyed this, and it was well-written! I liked the characters and writing style and paranormal elements.
The main problem though is that it feels like the author tried to include too much. A romance between Tom and Theo. Tom’s powers that he struggled with and didn’t know how to control. Tom’s alcohol addiction and depression. The relationship between Tom and his uncle that they started repairing. The relationship between Theo and David that had no spark and wasn’t working but that neither had ended yet since they did care about each other in some way. The history between David and Tom. David’s feelings about his boyfriend being attracted to Tom. The selkie seal skin being taken (it’s mentioned in the description, but it’s barely even a blip in the book). Paul (Tom’s uncle) and a bit of his story. All of these threads were great ideas with potential! I was interested. I would’ve liked to know more and go deeper with them. But they just weren’t explored enough. And for a romance, the main characters didn’t seem to spend much time together, either in their lives or in page-time. The bulk of the book mostly seemed to be taken up by inner monologues.
I also struggled to figure out and remember whose POV I was in sometimes. And sometimes something would be worded in a way that made me confused, like the POV character seemed to know a little too much about what another character was thinking or feeling (and I’m not talking about Tom’s empath powers). Also, speaking of POVs, I didn’t really see the point of including David’s. It wasn’t used in a way that added anything. At first I thought perhaps we were getting it because this would be a surprise throuple romance, but no. (I suspect he may get his own book though.) Same for starting the book with Paul’s POV, it didn’t add anything.
The writing was lovely though! It had sort of old-timey eloquence to it that I enjoy.
The historical coastal setting was nice too.
I also liked the characters. Tom and Theo were easy to like. Tom was struggling with his empathy and related supernatural powers that he didn’t understand, drowning his troubles in alcohol, sometimes having depressive bouts. Theo was long-lived and sort of started just moving with the current of life but maybe not so much really living it. David wasn’t the most perfect or likeable person, but he wasn’t bad either, just someone’s whose upbringing affected him. Paul was sort of prickly and cold toward Tom, but admitted to his flaws and mistakes.
Some readers may take issue with the fact that this is a romance and one character is in a relationship with a different person for most of the book. But it’s a spark-less, failing relationship that both characters were planning on ending. And personally, I like when books explore and portray the complications and messiness that life can have, especially when it comes to relationships. Plus, I like that no one was made out as a villain.
Tom had empath powers. Paul had similar powers. Theo was a selkie. David had some sort of witchy powers. I can’t say any of it was used in the story much, but still, I like those sorts of things.
This is one of those books I’m really struggling to decide on a rating for, because it had all the foundations to be a great book, it had good writing and ideas and characters, but it just didn’t delve deep enough into all the things that were included. But, despite my complaints, it was still a good book, and I enjoyed it.
Anyone who likes m/m romance, historical fantasy, selkies, empaths, and books that portray some of the messiness and imperfections relationships can have without villainizing anyone.