I always believe that if I'm vacillating between 3 and four stars, I should err on the side of the positive, and this is where this debut novel rests for me.
It was quite impossible for me not to order and immediately begin The Visitors once I read the synopsis. Selkies! Scotland! Disaffected young woman! Dark and roiling northern seas!
Honestly, I can't even explain why I'm not more solidly rooted in the four stars because the writing is quite lovely, the setting vibrant and stark. Flo is a lonely teenager, absolutely wild to get away from the suffocating community she lives in, and yet at the same time bemoans her inability to feel inclusive to that community, particularly her own family.
I suppose I had some hesitation over a couple of incidents that caused me to to feel a certain coldness or inability to comprehend the actions of Flo, and I feel like this is a story that weighs very heavily upon whether the reader can relate to or at least understand the actions of the protagonist.
Though it wasn't overt in a sense of explicitness, there's a measure of magical realism here, even separated from any of the selkie lore, though those elements do embroider and heighten the magical realism.
I certainly enjoyed the writing, the setting, and much of the characterizations and the storyline. Sylvester was completely unknown to me before this, but he will be on my radar now.