Secrets So Deep by Ginny Myers Sain

The Blurb On The Back:

At Whisper Cove,

what the sea wants,

the sea will have.

When Avril was a child, her mother drowned at Whisper Cove.  Local legend claims that the women in the waves called her into the ocean with their whispering.

Now Avril is seventeen and as she investigates what happened all those years ago, Whisper Cove reveals itself to her.  Distances shift in the strange fog.  Echoes of the past rebound from the ocean.  And Avril is sure she’s met Cole – the gorgeous but disturbed boy she can’t seem to keep away from – late at night at the edge of the ocean.

The truth Avril seeks is ready to be discovered.  But will come at a terrible cost.

SECRETS SO DEEP was released in the United Kingdom on 29th September 2022.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order SECRETS SO DEEP by Ginny Myers Sain from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

17 year old Avril has won a place on a prestigious theatre summer camp at Whisper Cove, Connecticut.  The camp is owned by the celebrated playwright, Wilma Cutler and her husband Brody, who run a 6 week intensive programme, culminating in a performance by the students of her Tony Award winning play, Midnight Music.  

Although many attending the programme are interested in the opportunities it can bring, Avril had a much more personal reason for applying: her mother, Nicole Kendrick, was best friends with Wilma Cutler and 12 years earlier had helped out at the course, bringing Avril with her. Tragically, Nicole died during their time there, drowning in the sea in what everyone assumed was an accident that almost killed Avril too.

Avril’s returned to Whispering Cove to try and get answers and learn more about the mother she never really knew.  There’s something weird about the place though – she keeps seeing images and people in the fog and slowly begins to have snippets of memories from her own time there as a child.  Being around Wilma Cutler helps her to feel more connected to her mother, as does the information that Glory (the office manager who was also friends with her mother) gives her.  But it’s Wilma’s gorgeous, disturbed, musician son, Cole, who Avril remembers playing with 12 years ago and who she feels instantly drawn to and who she ends up starring against in the production of Midnight Music.  

As they rehearse the play, Avril becomes more convinced that what happened to her mother wasn’t an accident …

Ginny Myers Sain’s paranormal YA thriller is a slow-paced affair populated with generic characters (with the exception of Avril) structured around a central play that simply didn’t convince me as being something so extraordinary as to be Tony Award winning.  Worse, the twists (with one exception) are telegraphed too early and the paranormal elements too wishy-washy.  It isn’t a bad book, but it did struggle to hold my attention.

I picked this up because I’d read Myers Sain’s debut YA novel DARK AND SHALLOW LIES and wanted to see what she produced next.

The main reason to read this is that the characterisation of Avril works pretty well.  Myers Sain gets across her sense of loss and need to reconnect with something of her mother and I think she does a good job of conveying what acting means to Avril (and indeed to the other people attending the camp).  I have to say that I wasn’t 100% convinced by Avril’s transformation into Eden, mainly because I found it somewhat overwrought, but eating isn’t my thing and I can believe that if it is something that resonates with you then the scenes will be more convincing.

The unfortunate thing is that the other characters are largely of the stock variety.  Cole reminded me of every YA male romantic lead ever and while Myers Sain tries to give him some depth by suggesting tension between him and Wilma, it doesn’t go anywhere and isn’t fully explored.  Likewise, Wilma is very broadly drawn while I was disappointed in how under drawn Glory was in comparison and would have liked some more scenes between her and Avril because it would have helped give more punch to events in the final quarter of the book.

The book uses a conceit of labelling the chapters like the Acts and Scenes of a play and the fictional play Midnight Music forms the spine of the story, serving as the catalyst for some of Avril’s memories.  It’s really difficult to produce a convincing play in the middle of a novel and even harder to make it convincing as something that’s won awards and sadly, Myers Sain didn’t persuade me with Midnight Music.  Nothing in the dialogue really sparked for me and the central themes of the play (which do at least get discussed in the book, which is a nice touch) seemed a bit insipid.

The pacing is slow and at times a bit circular.  The paranormal elements aren’t developed enough and when explanations come on in the final third, it isn’t particularly satisfying and all seems somewhat half-baked.

All in all, the overall effect was that my attention kept wandering as I was reading the book and I just wasn’t as invested in the events as I thought I would be.  It wouldn’t put me off reading Myers Sain’s next book, but I have to say that it wouldn’t be at the top of my list to pick up.  

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