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Monday, August 3, 2020

Letters from a Shipwreck in the Sea of Suns and Moons by Raymond St. Elmo


Official Author Website
Buy Letters from a Shipwreck in the Sea of Suns and Moons HERE(USA) or HERE(UK)
Read FBC's review of As I Was on My Way to Strawberry Fair 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Quest of the Five Clans series and The Scaled Tartan
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Origin of Birds in The Footprints of Writing
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Stations of Angels

Author information: Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas. A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.

Format: Letters from a Shipwreck in the Sea of Suns and Moons was self-published by the author on July 30, 2016, and is available through Kindle Unlimited and in ebook and paperback formats. It counts 414 pages.

Review: Raymond St. Elmo’s writing is often magical and creative, which is a delicate way to say it’s totally wackadoo:) It makes me laugh while, simultaneously, it laughs at conventions and doesn’t pay any attention to what sells at the moment. As the title suggests, Letters from a Shipwreck in the Sea of Suns and Moons is a weird book and its narrative requires certain patience from the reader. 

The writing is excellent and shows the author stretching his abilities. Told primarily as an interview between the protagonist and mysterious interviewers, it’s a time travel book, but not in the usual sense. The adventure starts at the board of Unicorn (a ship) as it sails upon the Sea of Suns and Moons. An ancient poet-turned-sailor, Clarence St. Elmo, shares vignettes of the voyage that ended in a shipwreck caused by unnatural storm. St. Elmo survived but found himself washed up at the shores of Theodosia, the island of dead gods inhabited by mythological terrors.

It’s an adventure story. And a love story told through letters. A story of lovers torn apart, but also a love letter to stories and storytelling. It’s often confusing, but also funny. It’s weird, but also immersive. It throws a lot to the mix - adventure, satire, humor, romance, fantasy, mythology and makes it work. There’s also a cargo of dead gods who are perhaps not as dead as everyone believes. And a haunted cemetery. 

So far I have performed a dark ritual in a cemetery, escaped a theological asylum, been locked in a dungeon for arguing at lunch, and run from unnatural dogs through a labyrinth. Checking my schedule, I see that tomorrow morning I am to fight a duel to the death. And yet, for all the theatre of my current residence, my attention keeps slipping. Gods, dogs and duels: they must clear their throats to recall my attention. Else my mind turns towards home, and a poem there I left unfinished.

I love St. Elmo’s dry, insightful humor. It makes me giggle. As for the story and plot - they ask for attention; the narrative requires it. The interviewing committee repeats some questions and answers differ or add to what Clarence has already said. But it also tells a story within a story. The interviewer claims the narrator is the blind old man, but it’s not as simple as that. It never is.

Letters from a Shipwreck in the Sea of Suns and Moons is a weird and unique book with a convoluted plot and unusual narration. It won’t appeal to readers looking for a well-pronounced plotline and quick pacing. Probably even fans of literary fiction will find it infuriating at times. And yet it’s the book worth trying as once you start to get into it you probably won’t want to leave.

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