‘A superbly written, fast-paced, crossover novel between literary fiction and subtle horror, with characterisation worthy of Susan Hill and seascapes of a modern Conrad.’
Literary agent Ian Drury, Sheil Land Associates
Draca is currently on submission to publishers.
Draca was a sailing boat, built over a century ago, and old Eddie Ahlquist’s pride and joy. Now she’s beached, her varnish peeling like dead skin. Eddie’s dying too; cigarettes have done what decades of stormy seas could not.
Eddie’s grandson Jack is stunned to be left everything in Eddie’s will, but it’s the final wedge between Jack and his father. With the will comes a last, rambling, impossible request; Eddie wants a Viking fireship funeral, in Draca. ‘Draca will know where,’ he writes.
But Jack has other plans. He’s a war-damaged ex-Marine. The doctors could fix his wounds, but not his marriage, nor his career. Unemployed and newly single, Jack finds a purpose in life; Draca will sail again.
Good therapy for a wounded hero, his friends say, but yachtswoman George Fenton has doubts. And yes, ‘George’ is a woman; an orphan with attitude who’s made her own way from care and foster homes to be manager of the local boatyard. She saw changes in old Eddie that were more sinister even than cancer, and by the time the old boat tastes the sea again, the man she dares to love is going the same way. Like his grandfather, Jack finds a wild exhilaration in rough seas, alcohol, and ever riskier sailing. Combat stress, some say, but George senses a malevolence about Draca itself, and in particular the Viking carving that Grandpa Eddie lifted from the mud one morning, restored, and used as a figurehead. To George, Jack’s ‘purpose’ has become ‘possession’; the boat owns the man.
So is Jack haunted by his past, or just haunted? When Grandpa Eddie died raving that he ‘tried to give it back’, was he talking about the Viking figurehead or had his cancer gone to his brain?
Draca is a story about conflict and its aftermath; not just battlefield conflict, but the tensions that fester within families and couples. It’s also a story about misunderstandings, of how people can have fundamentally different interpretations of the same events. In Draca three strong characters have divergent perspectives; there’s Jack, the flawed hero; his controlling and disinherited father; and George, the feisty yachtswoman.
And linking them all, there’s a boat that hides a dark and ancient secret. Tensions rise towards a confrontation from which there may be no survivors.