The Helix Pearl

The Story of the Winedark Garrulous Sea

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
354 Pages
Reviewed on 05/31/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

The Helix Pearl: The Story of the Winedark Garrulous Sea – A Tale of Love and Daring by Ruth Finnegan is the story of Kate as she navigates her life on and off the tumultuous sea and realizes there is more to life than she ever imagined. The sea sees it all. It could tell what Kate was feeling, what she was going through and it could feel her confusion as well. When Kate stood by the sea, cut to the heart, the sea knew Kate was going to have an uphill battle from thereon. She was going to work hard to find the love she once rejected and she would have her work cut out for her. Universe has its mysterious ways and it wants you to give equally for the amount you will take. Can Kate understand this before it is too late? Can she find the passion within to love herself or will she fail to find it forever?

Ruth Finnegan is a master of words. She knows which words to use to weave magical images in your mind and transport you into the lives of her characters. The Helix Pearl is as unique as Black Inked Pearl; it is just as ambitious, beautiful and powerful enough to make you get lost in its pages for hours on end. The narrative is original and unique; the voice of the sea is peaceful and tranquil, even when Katie’s life was in chaos. Reading this was like listening to a story of legend by my grandmother. It had action, it had suspense, it had a powerful heroine and it had a story that kept me riveted until the end. This is great and will be loved by readers who enjoyed Black Inked Pearl.

K.C. Finn

The Helix Pearl: The Story of the Winedark Garrulous Sea is an ethereal work of fantasy fiction by poetic author Ruth Finnegan. As with her other works, the unique poetic and lyrical style of storytelling creates a stream of consciousness, and this story adds to the epic multi-perspective collection which began with Black Inked Pearl and Voyage of Pearl of the Seas. This new companion to the tale recounts the same events as Black Inked Pearl, but this is from the perspective of the Sea itself, and with that comes a darker, sometimes volatile and often flowing quality to the prose. What results is a tale influenced by mythology, dreams and high emotions.

This might be my favourite of all that I have read by author Ruth Finnegan, and I feel that as her odyssey of poetic narratives grows and expands, I understand more and more of what she is achieving by the collection as a whole. In this new perspective, the Sea takes the part of a garrulous and mystic presence, and I can feel the influence of the ancient Greek times and their similar fascination with the sea upon it. Not all readers will appreciate the Joyce-styled stream of narrative, poetry, and emotion, but those who click into Finnegan’s writing are sure to find themselves swept away in the swell of the tides, and the images, colors, and feelings therein. Overall, The Helix Pearl: The Story of the Winedark Garrulous Sea is a highly unique and emotive work by a promising and emerging author.

Asher Syed

The Helix Pearl: The Story of the Winedark Garrulous Sea by Ruth Finnegan is the companion installment of two previous novels in the epic fantasy literary fiction trio, preceded by Black Inked Pearl and Voyage of Pearl of the Seas. In this book, Finnegan introduces the sea itself as the narrator, “jewel of the world”, as it delves into what it sees and feels and creates and witnesses. There is also a character named Kate that the sea is connected to, as it is to all people and places, but this story has made Kate and her personal journey the central focus. The narrative is a complex web of history that navigates past and present, written with prose that reflects the Elizabethian style of blank verse with a metrical pattern consisting of lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter.

Ruth Finnegan has written The Helix Pearl with all the panache of a seasoned literary fiction writer. The fantasy elements of the story come in many forms as the sea draws out the whole text with dragons spoken of throughout and even God taking on the role of a character. I enjoyed the many metaphors that Finnegan integrates, my favorite being, “And so I tell you, I the mother, holding, loving, calming sea, there sweetly sleep they, play and dance, embrace, in my bosom, in my depth.” For me, the very best were the themes that related and placed the book also in the genre of eco-fiction as litter and pollutants ravage the sea's health and beauty. This is a book that some will find difficult to digest, but for lovers of fantasy and true literary fiction in the classical style, it will be an absolute delight.

Grant Leishman

The Helix Pearl: The Story of the Winedark Garrulous Sea from author Ruth Finnegan is a fascinating tale of a young girl, Kate, and her journey through life, principally narrated by, of all things, the sea itself. Kate, who as a young girl rejects the advances/friendship of a young boy, embarks on a journey of self-discovery that takes her across the continents of the world and the great rivers of our planet, meeting with and communicating with God along with other celestial beings. The sea, its endless, unceasing waves as they pound the shore, is the backdrop to this adventure and the constant admonition from the sea to Kate to take the plunge and swim in the sea – the source of all life and the genesis of creation. Kate, however, is terrified to put even her toes into the whispering, relentless waters as they lap in and out. The sea, though, is unceasing in its invitation for Kate to enter its warm and loving embrace. Kate will seek to discover herself, love and meaning as she travels the world in that half-asleep, half-awake, in-between, liminal state of being.

The Helix Pearl will not appeal to all readers. Author Ruth Finnegan, clearly a master of the written word and a true lover of the classics, has fashioned a tale of mysticism and magic that transcends modern literature. Returning to the style of the classics, her sentences are unstructured poetic prose but always powerful and meaningful. She doesn’t hesitate to invoke many excerpts from classical Greek (Homeric) literature, the Bible, and Shakespeare among others that will have the reader nodding his/her head and muttering, “Ah yes, I remember that from high school English class.” If you love this style of literature and the use of words and sentences as metaphors with deeper meaning, this book will absolutely appeal to you. Although I confess to struggling at times with the writing style, I did enjoy the tale. I suppose, if I was to take anything deep from Kate’s journey it would be that, as a species, we must always be mindful that water is the source of all life on this planet and if we continue to abuse, pollute and waste our waterways and our vast oceans, then life for humanity is indeed doomed. If you fancy something different with some thought processes required, this will be the read for you.

Ruffina Oserio

The Helix Pearl: The Story of the Winedark Garrulous Sea by Ruth Finnegan is an intriguing fantasy that will certainly arrest the attention of readers looking for originality in a story and magic inspired by mythology. From the start of the story, the reader is introduced to a sophisticated character, Kate. At the start and by the seashore, she breaks the heart of the man with her. From this moment, the reader begins to ask questions and wants to know why, what becomes of Kate and the man. The plot is unpredictable and takes readers on a perilous adventure as they follow Kate in her journey through the sea. The story features all sorts of intriguing characters, including the sea and God.

Ruth Finnegan has a strong sense of setting and I enjoyed how she makes the sea a character that becomes a powerful part of the narrative. It comes alive with the rise and ebb of the waves and in the relationship the protagonist develops with it. There are hints of Greek mythology and spirituality, with the protagonist having dialogues with God. The narrative is done in a lyrical style that is absorbing and told from the point of view of the sea. I enjoyed how the author gives voice to the sea and emotions, introducing the setting and the narrator from the onset: “Waves crashed onto the beach. The wine dark sea. Today. Or long ago, for what is time? Bit so again I see and tell it, I, your troubadour today, The Sea.” The Helix Pearl is a beautiful story of love, faith, adventure, and mystery. A novel that reads like a long, beautiful piece of poetry, filled with imagery and surprising thrusts of life.