This book came to me as a recommendation from author MH Thaung and was genuinely something I’d probably never encounter on my own digging at the library or elsewhere. I’m glad I found this book, though. I get the feeling I’m gonna dig into more of Raymond St. Elmo’s work sometime soon, which is a good thing.

There were occasions throughout this book where I felt perhaps things were lagging a bit, or the pacing could be tightened up and I worried it would lose me. I stuck with it, though, and am glad that I did.

A poet runs away from his girlfriend’s uber-conservative family who disapproves of them being together, going on one of those wind-swept, oft-romanticized quests to either find himself or lose himself to the ocean in one last poetic act. Both things happen and also probably don’t, although that’s complicated.

The story weaves in ancient gods, a playful tone and a lot of surreal elements together into a majestic tapestry of words that are hard not to get lost in. The lost island of Theodosia, existing or not, is hardly the issue at hand, mind you. It’s about a lost tome half-translated into French by a mad sea captain and that book being lost at sea during a wreck.

This story unfolds as an interview exchange between a researcher and the old, blind sailor-poet, although there’s far more to that than is originally let on to. We delve into some oddly prescient stuff about technology, sentience and re-writing history to feel better about things. You could even say there’s something that could appeal to us right now, amid debates over the burgeoning AI tech that we’re being inundated with. Or, perhaps, simply the voices and characters we craft in our own heads to get through the day are the culprit here. Regardless of intent, there’s room to work and explore, which is appreciated.

In a way, we’re all the researcher, and we just want Mr. St. Elmo, wielding his St. Elmo’s Fire from his fist, to get Miss K and a happy ending, just like we are always wanting “more” from the world, never sated.

Really fantastic book. Very rarely am I reading an indie book where I feel like I’m being challenged or not being hit with constant hits of serotonin to get me to buy another book. This is really what indie books should be more like. Daring, odd, and willing to explore the in between places. My only misgiving is I wish it was available on more platforms than just Kindle.

So, if you want to pick this one up, you’re going to have to deal with the Almighty (and awful) Zon. It’s worth it, though.

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