The Fishing Widow is a novel by Amy K. Marshall. [I won this book in a Librarything Early Reviewer giveaway.]
Ethan and Colin are best friends and fishermen. Almost four years ago, they saw something horrifying on a ship the entire crew disappeared from, and have been trying to forget that ever since. Especially Ethan is struggling with it. In the meantime, Colin got his own ship and they’re about to set sail for the first time. But whatever they saw those few years ago, isn’t done yet. And it’s about to set its sight on somebody new.
The Fishing Widow was one of the most confusing books I ever read and should have had loads more editing before getting published. But at least I still think that it shouldn’t have been published at all – it was just way too soon.
As far as I can tell, Marshall did not have a (professional) editor. At least there’s nothing in her acknowledgements about that (yeah, I checked) and the book certainly doesn’t read like it had been edited by somebody other than herself. A good beta-reader (and she thanks beta-readers in her book) can replace an editor, but it needs to be a really good and critical beta-reader. I don’t think Marshall had those.
Why do I think that? Well, apart from the rather frequent spelling errors, there was also the fact that I spent most of the book disoriented. Marshall jumps in perspective between characters and for the majority of said jumps, the reader doesn’t know when it happens exactly or where it’s going. We’re just suddenly somewhere else in the story. Having an empty space between paragraphs would have helped, but honestly, there needed to be more work done on that.
Also, I’m still not sure what exactly happened at the end of the book. I’m not familiar with the folk tales this builds from and it felt like I needed to be to really understand what shape the evil is taking and why it is taking that particular shape. An editor who wasn’t familiar with the original legend could have caught that as well.
Plus, there was an inordinate amount of howling, sobbing, quipping, and other more or less fancy words for saying. It was overused and annoying, though not as overused as the phrase “his blue eyes saw/looked/watched” or “her startingly green eyes”. Speaking of eyes: only once in the entire book does anybody have brown eyes, which is rather unlikely. Especially since quite a few of the characters are Tlingit and I found no sign that they had a particular proneness for light eyes. In fact, all the pictures I looked at (after googling Tlingit) showed dark-haired, brown-eyed people.
But even if that is just my ignorance and Tlingit people often have light eyes and everybody else has green or blue eyes too, why the fuck are those eyes always startingly blue or startingly green? If everybody has light eyes, you can’t be suprised by the fact anymore. Plus there was also the fact that of course, the most beautiful woman they all had ever seen was blond and green-eyed. That is all just a little too white for my taste, especially for a story that builds on native legends.
Those things could be fixed with good editing, leaving you with a decent horror story and engaging characters. But instead we get the book in a rough draft state which makes enjoying it really hard.
Summarizing: This needs to go back to the drawing board before I can recommend it in any way.