Review: ‘Inside the Seventh Wave’ by GW Hawker

Gothic fiction on Chesil Beach

This unusual novel is primarily peopled by four characters who live in a short terrace of foundationless cottages on the edge of Chesil Beach, on Portland, which is on the Dorset coast of Britain (I explain for American readers who have a Portland of their own in Oregon). At the outset one quickly realises that each character demonstrates different, unlovely facets that exist within us all. We mostly have lovely aspects too, but Hawker puts the extreme edges of who we are here on the page. As the novel develops so too do the characters. Some become people one empathises with and begins to love. Others go over that dark edge. New characters wander onto the island from the mainland, bringing their own darkness and light. Each changes the direction of the book, pulling at and spitting out the original tide-wracked characters who live at the mercy of the sea, and each other.

As I say, the novel is set on the island of Portland – somewhere Hawker knows as well as he knows the profundities of the human character (which is to say: very well indeed). The plot of the book is interspersed with myths and legends of that not-quite-an-island. From the outset (where one learns the importance of the seventh wave) it is a character in its own right. It is an eerie presence. One could say sinister. Could these events happen on the mainland? One doubts it. There is – as with the human characters – much that is lovely about Portland (I live in Weymouth, love the island and go there often). But there is also much that is introspective, mythologised, and (in this novel) dark. The book is not short of malice.

Like the tide coming in, the plot roils and sucks at the lives of the four neighbours, who become increasingly entangled. Some old wounds are re-opened, others are healed. The waters grow deep indeed before the Grand Guignol denouement. To say more would mean spoilers of an unforgiveable nature. I hope, however, I have been able to say enough to tempt you to this unusual book which is both ‘literary fiction’ as far as the attention to characterisation and interaction goes and ‘gothic’ as far as plot is concerned.

In this review I originally slated the quality of the editing, saying it let the book  down. Since then, I am assured by other readers that the problems have been fixed and a further print run done. This is excellent news, and hopefully happened before the Booker Prize judges saw it. So now I can say without let or hindrance: this is one of the best novels I have read this year. (The house style is still pretty extreme in the printed book, but less so in the Kindle edition.)


Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

One thought on “Review: ‘Inside the Seventh Wave’ by GW Hawker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: