New Fiction: Sea Creatures – Susanna Daniel

Daniel’s debut novel, Stiltsville, made a bit of a splash (sorry, I couldn’t resist) in 2010. It won the PEN Faulkner award for first novel, and was both a Discover pick and an Amazon best book of the month. So I was eager to get my hands on the manuscript and quickly saw the appeal of Daniel’s writing. She is able to inhabit the lives of her characters, make their inner conflicts sympathetic and suspenseful, and create drama from the stuff of our imperfect family lives. In this return to Stiltsville, I expected to be taken by the location and its water-bound cottages—but found the situation of the family members much more exotic and interesting.

Publisher’s Weekly called Sea Creatures “a second novel filled with domestic upheaval, difficult choices, and far-reaching consequences.” Bookseller feedback from Kim Fox at Schuler Books & Music lays out the plot and does a nice job of suggesting the drama at the heart of the story:

Georgia is an insomniac, and met her husband at a sleep lab. He has parasomnia–a debilitating condition of marked by episodes of sleepwalking and night terrors. Their young son, Frankie, once developing normally, has stopped talking. Following a disgrace in Chicago, the three move back to Georgia’s hometown of Coral Gables, Florida. There she begins a job as an errand girl/assistant for ‘the hermit’–a friend of her deceased mother who, after losing his daughter, abandons his wife and moves to a stilt house in the Keys. Through her relationship with the hermit and the absence of her husband, Georgia slowly begins to realize the hard choices she will have to make in order to protect her son. Daniel weaves a marvelous sense of place with a deft handling of relationships, loss, and hope to make this a fully realized and riveting drama.”
–Kim Fox, Schuler Books & Music, Walker, MI

“Don’t confuse the waterfront setting with light beach reading; this is substantive domestic drama…readers interested in families coping with disabilities will find Frankie particularly compelling as he navigates changing relationships and obstacles.”
— Library Journal

“What I found most stirring in Sea Creatures is how deftly Daniels exposes one of the most agonizing realities of parenthood: that no matter how hard we try, or how endless our love for our children, we are hampered by our own limitations, sometimes even tragically.”
— Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful Life

 Sea Creatures (9780062219602) by Susanna Daniel. $25.99 hardcover. 7/30 on sale.

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