Last month, one of my writing buddies published her first story, “The Sea of Ghosts”! Raychel Rose submitted her short story (which is around 10,000 words) to Psychopomps, and I had the honor of beta reading it. She ended up winning the contest and her story is one of four in Psychopomps: Shepherds of The Dead!
While, I have not read the other three stories in the anthology, I can testify to how great Raychel’s story is! I was not contacted to do this book review; however, I am a friend of the author.
Nathaniel, a guilt-ridden pirate, dies tragically in a shipwreck and falls into the guidance of a Sea Reaper, a mermaid who must lead him into the afterlife. But what happens when Nathaniel cannot continue on and strives for redemption and life?
Here is my spoiler free review:
Characters: I really enjoyed the first person narration of the main character, Nathaniel. He was a very relatable character and had a lot of emotion without being overly dramatic (which is one of my pet peeves in fiction). I was really surprised at how Raychel was able to develop him in such a short piece of writing. The other main character, Cassandra, was also very interesting and complex. I will be honest that I don’t like many female characters in fiction (Why? I am not sure….), but I really liked Cassandra! The other sailors on Nathaniel’s ship, while they were background characters, were surprisingly diverse and complex for having such small roles in the story.
Plot: One of the things that I love most about the “Sea of Ghosts” is that, while it has lots of romantic elements, the story is about so much more. Raychel focuses on some really complex things such as redemption, and I really appreciated that. Also, the pacing of the story was very well done, and it kept the tension high and the action interesting until the very end.
Writing Style: Can I just say that I love Raychel’s writing style? It is beautiful and descriptive, and Raychel does an amazing job of making the readers feel the emotions of the characters in whatever type of scene she is writing (such as the action scene, or the scenes full of confusion and anger, or the scenes of longing). Here is one of the quotes from her story, so you can see her style for yourself!
Possible Objections: I like to keep the books that I read pretty clean, and I am relatively cautious in what I pick up. When I first heard that Raychel’s story was about soul reapers of the sea, I was really hesitant. However, Raychel, a Christian herself, was really careful not to write about anything that went against her worldview. She took special care to use a fictional “Aeternus” and “Infernum” instead of “heaven” and“hell” when she dealt with those aspects of her story so that she did not give any false impressions about the real heaven and hell. Also she kept her romance very clean, including only a single kiss. Nathaniel is a very moral character, but he has realistic struggles. I believe that there are one or two flippant uses of “bloody” and “hell” by some pirates, and I believe that “damned” is used in the proper context one or two times.
I would recommend “The Sea of Ghosts” to anyone who loves fantasy stories that deal with deeper themes, but I have to be honest that I have not read the other stories in the anthology, so I am unable to give my recommendation there.
If you want to buy Raychel’s book or check out her blog, you can at these links:
I am very sorry that my posts have been really inconsistent of late. Right now, I am juggling college applications and high school swimming in addition to my normal school work and year round swimming. In essence, I have been doomed to a stressful past few weeks, and I was unable to post. Hopefully, my posts will resume on the normal schedule starting on the 16th of November (the day before is when my last application is due). I am going to try and post like normal this week, but it may not happen. Also I will be renovating my blog within the next few weeks and making it look more professional and easier to navigate. I hope you all have had good weeks!