Starlings provide the panoramic perspective on a town whose fortune has been made from the hypnotic impact of the sea but whose ultimate demise is overseen by a pier whose physical permanence has been gradually eroded by the tides of time.
The murmuration of winged guardians are the town’s avian hard drive, able to host the memories for generations, from the halcyon days of the 1800s through to the desolate shore line of today. But it’s the relentless pressure of the sea that begins to take its toll not only on the skeletal framework lurking above the water but on the people who attempt to bring it to life.
Georgie Parr is the forerunner of a long list of music hall comics who haunt the creaking pier and it is his tragic end that sets the tone for a plot of otherworldly undertones shifting from the mystical to the macabre and ultimately onto the miraculous.
The author explores the fluctuations in the town’s fortunes through the eyes of characters who are either drawn to or are unable to escape from the seemingly magnetic pull of a Victorian structure whose unassuming and weather beaten façade withholds secrets too dark to see the light of day.
Mickey Braithwaite, the mentally impaired but innocently insightful deckchair attendant, is the pier’s unlikely spiritual gatekeeper who observes the peccadilloes of its transient inhabitants with an unexpected wisdom reflecting an almost mystical persona.
Death and decay permeate the story as characters struggle to find life in a town where the lifeblood has been drained by the lure of warmer climes and those left behind become part of an historical archive that has echoes of a black and white film with the stars receding into a darkening horizon.
- Rich Review rating