Review: BLACKFIN SKY by Kat Ellis

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Skylar Rousseau drowned off the pier three months ago. So when she turns up at school one morning with no memory of having done so, suddenly all eyes are on her. 

How could she have disappeared for three months? If she didn’t die, then who did her parents bury? Sky decides to chase the answers, but it seems that no-one wants her to know the truth. There’s a burned ruin of a circus in the forbidden woods, a disappearing fortune teller, and a haunted weathervane – but what do any of them have to do with her? As Sky digs deeper, she realises that her parents might be hiding more secrets than she thought possible. 

Wow. I mean, first of all, have you seen that cover?? You can’t resist that cover, look how gorgeous it is! And the inside definitely lives up to expectation. Blackfin Sky is sinister, thrilling, and dangerous, and Sky’s exploration into what happened to her, and why, turns up every dark secret the town has been hiding for sixteen years.

I love the casual inclusion of the supernatural in this book. When the first couple of pages are narrated by the Silas the haunted weathervane, you know this thing is going to go to some weird places. Everyone’s got secrets they’d rather not talk about, but Sky’s need to know how she could have missed her own death forces everything out into the open. There’s something here that reminded me of Riverkeep (Martin Stewart), that feel that the world of the novel is slightly off-kilter from reality, and that delicious sinister chill. And that mixture of cruelty and joy in the stories of the circus is intoxicating.

By the conclusion though, I did feel that a lot of the extraneous weirdness about Blackfin had been dropped in favour of Sky’s particular brand of weirdness. Perhaps the ending was a little too keen to reveal everything to Sky’s, and the reader’s, satisfaction. But that only made me more eager to read more stories set in and around Blackfin. I think the author has created a really intriguing world here, and I’d love to see more of it – maybe even a series of novellas or short stories, though her preference does seem to be for stand-alones. The Blood House, the origins of the haunted weathervane, what happened to the rest of the circus performers… even with trying to avoid spoilers here, there’s a lot of scope for further exploration, and I would love to read it.

Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis is published by Firefly Press.

Waterstones | the Book Depository | Amazon (UK) (US). 

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