- The Coming Storm by Regina M. Hansen
2021 [288 p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781534482449 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781534482463 $10.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R* Gr. 6-8
On the morning of her beloved older cousin Gerry's death at sea, Beatrice "Beet" MacNeill sees his ghost and hears him play a haunting tune on his fiddle one last time. A year later, mysterious Marina Shaw, a woman claiming to be Gerry's cousin, arrives in town. Marina shows disturbing interest in Gerry's grieving girlfriend and young son, and Beet begins to connect the dots between the newcomer, an unusual horse that appears on the beach, and a strange, hollow singing in the air that is both beautiful and awful. Beet's mid-twentieth-century perspective and solid, practical voice anchor the main narrative, while other glimpses from the near and distant past weave in and out to gradually reveal a repeating, deadly pattern. There's a wonderful mix of the mythic and the mundane on display, as when the eerie singing disrupts Beet's long-awaited first set fiddling for a local dance, or she's forced to admit the validity of her friend's obsession with the supernatural, or everyone takes one look at Beet talking to a sweet, lonely new boy and gets ideas. The beating heart of the story, though, is human love and connection pitted against selfish, ancient magic (plus deadly water horses); this is very much the slightly younger-aimed sibling of Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races (BCCB 12/11) and Billingsley's Chime (BCCB 2/11). Hansen renders historical Prince Edward Island tangibly, vibrantly alive, awash in traditional musical and maritime culture. This is a great choice for folklore and [End Page 426] historical fiction aficionados, fiddlers, and fans of the pandemic TikTok sea shanty phenomenon. An author's note expands on the novel's brief mention of the indigenous Mi'kmaq people alongside the island's diverse immigrant population.