Anna Porter is the award-winning author of ten books, both fiction and non-fiction. She co-founded Key Porter Books which she ran for more than 25 years and notably, she is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has received the Order of Ontario.
Gull Island is Porter’s sixth mystery novel, and she uses her mystery writing skills aptly to build to a climax with some surprising twists at the end of the book. Her ending had me thinking about this book long after I had finished reading it.
Gull Island is described as “a haunting psychological suspense novel about a young woman (Jude) who visits her remote family cottage, seeking answers to a murky past.”
Jude’s wealthy, intimidating and emotionally distant father has gone missing. Coaxed by her mother, Jude travels by boat to their cottage on a remote island in Northern Ontario (her father’s favourite getaway place) in search of her father’s will. Jude plans to be on the island just a few days, but a fierce storm washes away the boat, leaving Jude stranded with only memories of her precarious childhood to keep her company. Things that go bump in the night are loud and abundant, and Jude wonders if what she is seeing and hearing is real, or perhaps, paranormal.
The author uses the cottage as the setting where old photo albums act as a window to the past. Why are there no photos of Jude as a baby but plenty of photos of her sister? Why were her parents so distant? Jude is forced to reckon with long-buried truths and is filled with the sense that the cottage may in fact be haunted by more than just the past—or is she losing her mind?
This is a book that details a dysfunctional family as seen through the eyes of a person who lived through it as a child and is now reliving it as an adult. Porter draws you into the story, as you feel that you and Jude are one, alone in the dark in that scary, remote cottage. All you want to do is escape the island, and the past. A compelling read with some great twists to keep the reader engaged and guessing.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Gull Island is written by Anna Porter, copyright 2023 by Anna Porter. Published by Simon & Schuster Canada. Author photo by Mark Raynes Roberts.
by Laurie Wallace-Lynch