The seahorse of the title is a fantasy fixture in the mind of a small boy; before the end of this rather glum first novel he seems to be more like an octopus and two boys and one man meet a waterlogged end in the waters he is believed to have haunted. All of this takes place at a small, English school for slow and disturbed children. From the start, when a cat is dismembered, there seems to be a certain ""nervous distemper"" on the premises and their mentors, to begin with, are not much more stable. Storm, who runs the school, has great charisma but escapes a depressing marriage with the wife of his second-in-command, Paul, whom he sacks during the course of the novel. Paul has never gotten over the death of his own son (guilt, guilt) and is totally unresponsive to his wife. Then there's Casey, for whom Paul acquires a special attachment, the child who remains not only somewhat uncommunicable but also inviolable in his world-- with the seahorse... Some of this is interesting enough but never moving, and Masters has a tendency to use two words where one would do. Often he is turbid (""a rough Gauguin miasma of unwieldy delicacy"") if not outright unclear.