Publication Date: July 18, 2015
Mossley Island is a place where the residents keep to themselves and distrust outsiders. Ren Lesguettes may have been born on the island but when he and his daughter, Dawn, move to the island so that he can consult on a bridge to connect it to the mainland, they find ample opposition. With Dawn wanting to reconnect with the family her father left behind, what she finds on Mossley Island is people with a lot to hide.
From Away is an investment. It is the first volume in a planned serial fiction and as such, the story is really just beginning by the last page in the book. There are several perspective threads to follow and a host of characters with uncertain involvement beyond their resident status on the island. What we know from the first page is that there is a dark evil that the islanders fear for a good reason and while it may not have shown its face for a while, they are ever vigilant (and the subject of the series) as it will at some point, return with likely devastating consequence.
There’s awkwardness in the writing style of From Away. The book is written in present tense, a style of which this reader is not especially a fan but also, in a likely attempt to build tension, the sudden starts and shifts are a bit too frequent. The audience seeing a character and potential threat before the person in the book can be a great device for fostering terror if paired with exposition. Of course, “suddenly surrounded by nuns” is enough to fill anyone with dread.
There are some things that as a reader I found odd and puzzling. They’re building a bridge for access from the island to the mainland, but Dawn is initially denied access to the island because she lacks a blood test showing a familial link. One young man starts to say something to his father and is immediately shut down because he’s not supposed to know. In many ways, From Away reminded me initially of Blake Crouch’s “Wayward Pines” except no one is being kidnapped and there’s a Ferry to the island.
Mackay’s strong suit is setting. He has a good feel of the island on which his story is set. In an interview listed on Amazon, the author says that the idea for Mossley Island came while living on an island off of the East Coast of Canada. The sense of place is unique and its place in time uncertain. What we know by the end of the book is that there are grave dangers and dark evils haunting the people who have stayed.
Ultimately what the reader is left with is a good idea and great promise but with a few issues that are not insurmountable. The book is short and a quick read and beyond a few flow problems as a result of the aforementioned sudden stops and starts. I think as the story naturally unfolds (and much of the series has already been released), the outstanding issues will be easy to rectify.
If you’re looking for a sci-fi read that’s a good idea, buy From Away today.
Read an excerpt and buy From Away — Series One, Book One: A Serial Thriller of Arcane and Eldritch Horror by Deke Mackay Jr. on