A young woman battles sea monsters in this turn-of-the-20th-century fantasy set on the Isle of Man.
Sixteen-year-old Bridey Corkill has hated the sea ever since it lured her grandfather to his death when she was 9. Until she can realize her dream of leaving her small fishing village to become a London shop girl, she reluctantly takes a job working for old Morag, who has a reputation as a witch. When Bridey’s female neighbors begin to disappear one by one around the same time that Bridey sees an ominous black fin in the harbor, only Morag agrees that something monstrous from the ocean is to blame. Could it be the same beast that took Grandad? Meanwhile, Bridey discovers a handsome naked stranger she dubs Fynn washed up on the shore and quickly falls for him. Fynn claims amnesia but is soon accused by the villagers of murdering the missing women. Bridey must confront her fear of the water and the monsters within if she hopes to save Fynn and discover the truth about the missing villagers. Marsh’s prose is often overdone (“the frigid fingers of a northern wind penetrated the hot kitchen”), and romance-novel clichés abound (“Then his mouth was on mine, hot, damp, salty”). Still, the Manx setting is an unusual (albeit all-white) one that’s rich in folklore, and this watery take on “Beauty and the Beast” will be catnip to paranormal-romance readers.
Mostly seaworthy. (author's note, glossary) (Fantasy. 12 & up)