“Hy Brasil” by Margaret Elphinstone

Hy Brasil by Margaret Elphinstone is the last fiction book on my TBR challenge. After winning a writing competition, Sidony Redruth finds herself on Hy Brasil to write the first ever travel book about a remote archipelago of islands situated in the north Atlantic. What develops is something like a swashbuckling adventure story for adults, there’s even some modern day pirates thrown in!

I’d actually read the first half of this book about five years ago, when one month for our reading group, the librarian gave us all different books, ones that were due to be removed from the library circulation list as they were taken out so infrequently. She wanted to see if there were any hidden gems that deserved a second chance. Unfortunately, I only got half way through and had been enjoying it, but I gave the book back without finishing it, and then promptly forgot to take it out again.

I downloaded it on my Kindle last year, and have finally got round to reading it, and I’m so glad I did. I started from the beginning again, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a sort of grown up version of a swashbuckling adventure, set on islands with active volcanoes, a history of piracy, smuggling, corrupt politics and the sunken treasures of a shipwreck just off the coast. The chapters alternate between Sidony’s journal and notes written for her travel book, and narrative told from the view of a variety of inhabitants of the island.

I loved the fictional country of Hy Brasil, with vivid descriptions of the landscape, and a wonderful sense of the people who live there, so much so that feel I can picture it in my head. In fact, I wish it was real, as it sounds like it would make a fantastic place to visit!

A great page turner of a book, with humour and excitement, it was like being a kid again, reading one of the adventure books like Enid Blyton’s Adventure series, but with adult situations and themes. Very entertaining, and I’ll definitely be reading more of Elphinstone’s books.

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