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The Visitors

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  776 ratings  ·  147 reviews
In the tradition of Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks, Simon Sylvester brings an ancient myth to life with this lush, atmospheric coming-of-age tale

Nobody comes to the remote Scottish island of Bancree, and seventeen-year-old Flora can't wait to move to the mainland when she finishes school. So when a mysterious man and his daughter move into isolated Dog Cottage, Flora is curiou
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 5th 2014 by Quercus (first published May 29th 2014)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  776 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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there's a sustained haunting quality underlying this novel with a white-noise hum that kinda shivers underneath your skin even after you've finished reading. it's a scottish coming-of-age gothic novel with both fantasy and mystery elements which i know sounds like someone getting a little too greedy at the plot store, but i'm telling you, it works.

part of it is the setting. you give me a sparsely-populated, non-tropical island story with a teenage girl yearning for more life than the geographic
Startlingly good.

I came across this debut novel completely by accident, searching for a similarly named Lee Child book – this is worlds away from Jack Reacher. Drawing deeply from Scottish folklore and myth, in singing prose that is compulsively readable, Sylvester has woven a fantastically dark tale that is equal parts thriller and fantasy. The supernatural aspects in the story were a surprise, the cover blurb having suggested a far more straightforward story, but I really enjoyed the way Sylve
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Kate Morton, Susanna Kearsley, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Recommended to TL by: karen
Shelves: favorites
A wonderfully gothic/dark tale with elements of mystery, thriller, and even magic sprinkled throughout the story. The synopsis does the book justice yet doesn't at the same time, to say any more than what was said would be to take some of the magic away from the story.

I love myths and legends of Ireland and Scotland... there's just something so fascinating about reading these tales. Each story is different in its own way, many with life lessons and undercurrents of menace and peril.

Selkies is o
Dale Harcombe
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
‘The island seemed so safe until people began to disappear’ the cover says. That is enough to get the curiosity going. The cover is also a drawcard.
The island is Bancree and the story is told from the point of view of 17 year old Flora, (Flo) who can’t wait to finish school and leave the island. Her boyfriend has just left the island for university. Around the same time, a man and his daughter Ailsa move to the area and take up residence in the area in Dog Cottage. That is unusual since people n
Book Riot Community
I don’t know why this book felt so perfect for autumn and cool weather and grey skies and my current melancholy, but it was perfection. Beautifully blending moody teenage angst, Scottish island life, mysterious disappearances, and selkie mythology, Sylvester’s novel is the best new(ish) book I’ve devoured in months. I found myself angry that work and sleep were disrupting my progress. I wish there was more. I wish the story went on forever. I want to sink into Flo’s life and never leave the comf ...more
Linda Todd
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: friends
Recommended to Linda by: a gift
Wonderful book loved reading it and sorry it had to end but end it did and what an ending so come one and all and get this wonderful book you will be better for it fantasy, adventure and love all in one book I am happy to recommend this fabulous book to all my friends and how ever I can so got get the book you will be pleased you did so you all keep smiling and happy reading to you all with love from wee me. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
I stayed up far too late last night to finish this -- there was a cup of coffee consumed mid-afternoon which contributed to my reading prowess, but the majority of the blame belongs to this compelling and engaging novel. I'm betting a lot of other people in the US will have the same experience, as many UK readers have already, when the book hits the shelves this winter.

The pleasures here are myriad. Chief among them is a compelling and smart teenage narrator, Flora, who despite her insight has b
Book Addict Shaun
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
When I was offered the chance to review this book I was immediately intrigued. The cover is absolutely stunning and would definitely capture your eye in a bookshop. With eye captured you then read the blurb and are drawn in even more. I know some people don't like blurbs, or even to be told a little bit about the plot but it's very rare that I go into a book blind. I have to at least have some idea about the book before reading it. A book such as this probably wouldn't be my usual read but I'm a ...more
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I bought this mistakenly thinking it was on the Booker shortlist. It was actually on the Guardian's Not the Booker shortlist, voted for by readers. I now have a much higher opinion of Guardian readers than Booker judges.

The narrator is a teenage girl, and I wondered if I'd picked up a book for adolescents. Although it could very well be read by a teenage audience, it is equally suitable for adults. It weaves a mystery over a serial killer with Scottish folklore about selkies.

I enjoyed most of th
i think possibly, this book was written just for me. it is almost the selkie story that i've been dreaming about writing since i was about 12. the atmosphere is perfect. the descriptions of the ocean, and the small island life, and flora's yearning for something more really work well. the selkie mythology and stories she is studying are fantastic. there are some really interesting bits about the nature of storytelling and mythology in here. and the coming of age, gothic vibe of flora's story re ...more
Carla (Carla's Book Bits)
For the love of God, do not read the synopsis to this book if you're about to pick it up! I hate synopses like this; this one tells too much without telling you what the book is actually about, and when you're reading it, you're wondering why pages have gone by with "nothing happening." The truth is, this book's synopsis doesn't tell you what the book is about at all.

I had a hard time telling my SO what this book was about and why I was so invested in it. The words that came out of my mouth were
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't understand what just happened. I went back and forth rereading the last chapters and I think I get it but I don't. It was a very engaging story with a crazy twist I din't expect. I still don't know the truth from the imagined. ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book breaks my heart and I will treasure and cherish it forever.

I can't really describe how I feel about this book as my feelings would just pour out in a unintelligible gush. I loved this book. I fucking loved it. I adored all the selkie folklore, how real Flora's life felt and how relatable she was. I read this in two long sessions, I'm so sad it's over, I need more!
Caroline Deacon
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s interesting this has been marketed as general or crime fiction, as the voice and subject matter feels v YA. Nevertheless it’s a beautifully written book, hard to categorise. Is it crime? Coming of age? Fantasy? Gothic horror? Or Scottish literary fiction? Immerse yourself in it and don’t worry what it is.
Written in first person from POV of seventeen year old teenage girl, I’ve only given it four stars rather than five as a couple of times the odd turn of phrase reminded me this was a man wr
Ali Bookworm
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW!! From start to finish this book had me gripped, sucking me in like a Selkie would. The descriptions of Bancree were perfect creating an eerie setting from the start. It was easy to read and the story just flowed but it was the anticipation which built up with each chapter and towards the end my heart was beating. I loved it so so much as I love all stories intertwined with folklore. I really did not want it to end. On reflection I think I may have met a few selkies in my own life, it certai ...more
Karthik Thrikkadeeri
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The atmospheric descriptions had me after the first few chapters. The myth of “selkies” combined with a coming-of-age tale...riveting. My Scottish ancestry didn’t mean I could interpret the vocabulary (and argot) except with the aid of Wikipedia, among other sources, of such words as ‘dreich, shennachie, cèilidh, numpty, lochan’. My thanks and support are well earned. Enchanting.
Suze Lavender
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Flora can't wait to leave Bancree. It's only a small island and there's nothing to do. She's seventeen years old and just has one more year of high school left before she can see more of the world. When her boyfriend leaves to go to university Flora is all alone. She doesn't have any other friends as they were an item for years and his friends were hers, but they've all left. Now that they've broken up she starts to think about their relationship. Fortunately Flora's loneliness doesn't last too ...more
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Review also found at

3.5 stars

**I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Melville House via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is December 29th, 2015**

I will be upfront and say that I gambled on this story. It seemed a little like it was outside of my comfort zone however in my quest to expand my horizons I decided to take the plunge. Additional doubts arrived when I read the synopsis on Goodreads.
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book brings the mythical and creepy nature of the Scottish islands to life. Best to read at night under the covers with a torch for the full effect. If it’s foggy out so much the better!

The island of Bancree may be fictional yet it is evocative of many islands in and around the Hebrides. Places such as Gigha, Islay and Culloden all provide the inspiration for Bancree according to the author on his website and we have to agree. Wester Inshes is another place mentioned for the view and island
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
There’s something about crime fiction set in small town communities that is endlessly compelling, and if these communities are set on remote Scottish islands, so much the better! Again, another crime book that is much more allayed to the style of contemporary fiction, The Visitors is an intriguing tale, steeped in myth, murder and a nifty reworking of the familiar locked room mystery, where there are only a finite group of suspects, but where the guilty party is well-concealed. This book is atmo ...more
David Kenvyn
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Simon Sylvester first attracted attention with his collection of storytelling tweets. This is his first novel and it is well worth the wait. This is a story about two young girls on a remote Scottish island, and it tells of the terrifying consequences of their friendship. The tale is set in the everyday world of a small Scottish island, where everyone knows everyone else, and where everything is as safe as it should be. It is a story of school projects, school rivalries, ferry journeys, trips to ...more
Andy Weston
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is typical of many such novels recently in that they may be a YA novel that is quite suitable for adults, or perhaps the other way round, in this case a crime mystery novel that would be very suitable for young adults.

Sylvester gets the setting right as far as I am concerned. On a remote Scottish island there is a missing person. Two 16-17 year old girls, struggling to find entertainment on the sparsely populated island, investigate. Around this is there own coming of age stories, and isla
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Descriptions of this book make it sound like it's a mystery with a potentially supernatural twist, but though there are more than one mysteries in this book, it's not a "mystery" book, more a coming-of-age look at an interesting, likeable protagonist in an interesting setting. While the missing men were relevant, that mystery served more as a device to get the lead characters into certain places and situation than as a driver of the plot. The plot itself is driven by Flora (Flo)'s growth as a pe ...more
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dead-good-reads
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this book. It's not the sort of book I would buy usually but because I had been sent it I started to read. And I'm glad I did! I really enjoyed it and couldn't put it down. I am really into Scottish folklore so I enjoyed reading about the "Selkies". Would recommend this to anyone as it's very good. Will definitely look out for this author again ...more
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
A tricky one - this book had a lot of 5 star moments and I loved the incorporation of the selkie myth into a mystery book... but I felt like there were some key moments that needed to leave more impression with me as a reader and didn't. I got to the end and felt like I missed something even though I didn't. Still worth the time to read it, though :) ...more
May 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read an advance copy of The Visitors (for a review elsewhere) and it is simply brilliant - lush prose, delightful characters and a thrilling plot that keeps you guessing until the end. A remarkable debut.
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For a book that was part of our relationship experiment and that I didn't choose myself, this was pretty fantastic, I've enjoyed it from start to finish! It's a very dark novel and the Scottish stories within the story are brilliant. Fantastic twist, excellent read, highly recommended! ...more
Trina Hollis
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
really cracking read. a mixture of fantasy love and adventure felt very sad when I came to the end and wanted more.
Natalie Bowers
Beautifully written. Utterly gripping. Full review to follow.
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Simon Sylvester a writer, teacher and occasional filmmaker. His debut novel, The Visitors, was published by Quercus Books in 2014 and reviewed by The List as 'intoxicating' and 'enchanting'. ...more

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