Keep a secret. Tell a lie. Protect the family. At all costs.
A compulsively readable suspense thriller from Ngaio Marsh Award shortlisted author, Nikki Crutchley, which will keep you guessing and reading up until late into the night.
Iluka has been the only home that 18-year-old Ana has ever known. The beautiful wild pine plantation overlooking the Pacific Ocean where her grandfather builds furniture, her aunt runs an artists' retreat and her uncle tends the land, is paradise, a private idyll safe from the outside world.
But the place holds a violent secret and when a stranger arrives, Ana will need to make a choice: to protect everything - and everyone - she holds dear or tell the truth and destroy it all.
An atmospheric, suspenseful, dark and twisty thriller in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier, Paula Hawkins, Anna Downes and JP Pomare.
'An enthralling thriller, as beautiful and deadly as an ocean storm ... Crutchley achieves a perfect balance as she draws the reader into an eerie world filled with secrets, lies and twisted love.' Rose Carlyle, The Girl in the Mirror
'Many things make this thriller stand out ... Crutchley's meticulous writing and propulsive storytelling give the book a strange power' North and South
‘To the Sea is a compelling, atmospheric suspense thriller from exciting crime-writing talent Nikki Crutchley. As beautiful and unpredictable as the ocean. As divisive as Iluka, which perches above the cliffs … at once an idyllic home, and the keeper of dark and deadly secrets.’ Sandi Wallace, Black Cloud
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Average rating from 7 members
Really loved this book by New Zealand author Nikki Crutchley. It’s not her first book and it shows in her accomplished dialogue and tension she sets.
Ana is 18 years old and Iluka is the only home she has ever known. She lives there with her mother, grandfather, uncle and aunt. Iluka is perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean, with its crumbling cliffs at the front and a forest of pine trees at the back the place is truly secluded and almost cut off from the next properties. The locals treat them with suspicion and the neighbours stay away. Ana and her family are pretty much self sufficient and that’s the way they like it, just them and the sea. When Nikau rents one of the cabins on the property for a photography retreat, he spends a good deal of his time trying to befriend Ana, and quizzing her on life at Iluka.
Told in two narratives, one through Ana’s mother some 24 years previous and Ana’s perspective now, we slowly see that this idyllic paradise holds dark, violent secrets and new comers and questions aren’t welcome.
This is a very atmospheric, dark story and would make an excellent movie. I highly recommend
To The Sea by Nikki Crutchley is a profound, dark and disturbing story that left me feeling very uncomfortable.
Well written with great character development.
Illuka is an area on a cliff edge close to the ocean and is superbly described; the atmosphere of a rugged coast line and rough seas matches the story line which is full of dark, deadly secrets.
The story is told from two perspectives - the now is Ana and between 24 and 14 years previously is told by her mother, Anahita - and it took me a while to feel comfortable with the jumping back and forth in time; I’m actually not sure that it worked very well as I almost stopped reading because I found it annoying. I did persevere and preferred it as it moved to being in the present rather than the past.
I would recommend this novel as it was a captivating story with an unexpected ending!
Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for a copy to read and write an honest review.
A gruesome crime committed on a beach hemmed in by towering cliffs on a wild, remote stretch of New Zealand’s coast, provides a brutal first taste of the atmospheric thriller to unfold in Nikki Crutchley’s new novel To The Sea.
And it’s this same idyllic beach, some 23 years later, that’s part of a secluded coastal property, Iluka, which has always been home to 18-year-old narrator Ana and her family – and also the menacing setting for the entire story as it unfolds.
Crutchley’s evocative descriptions of Iluka – a fictionalised version of the beaches along the Coromandel Coast of New Zealand’s North Island – are immersive. The landscape becomes an additional character, in equal measures breathtaking and threatening – hallmarks that have become so synonymous with the growing corpus of great Kiwi noir fiction.
Against this backdrop, Ana’s grandfather has cut the family off from the rest of the world, ostensibly to “protect” their subsistence lifestyle, but in reality to unbridle his megalomania. With nothing else to compare her life to, Ana finds little to fault with the hard graft, strict rules and barbarous punishments dished out.
That is until a stranger arrives and prompts her to question the past, fraying her naïve acceptance of her family’s lifestyle. As she unearths a web of dark secrets and lies, she finds herself in a precarious position with the power to protect or destroy her beloved home and family.
This is New Zealand-born Crutchley’s fourth crime novel since her 2018 debut Nothing Bad Happens Here, which was shortlisted for New Zealand's annual literary prize for excellence in crime fiction, mystery and thriller writing – the Ngaio Marsh Awards. Her second, No One Can Hear You, was on the Award’s longlist in 2019.
Besides her broody depiction of the landscape, in To the Sea Crutchley provides discomfiting insights into domestic violence – the pervasive power of mental manipulation and physical harm – and explores how abusive control can be normalised through generations.
Her pacing and ability to boil tension throughout the novel is also skilful – I often felt I’d guessed the twists, but was gratified to find I was wrong.
But there were also a few letdowns for me.
At times I felt I needed to suspend my disbelief, to ignore the sense that characters and events had been implausibly jammed in to suit the plot. I also wished for more development in the crucial relationship between Ana and the stranger who prompts her dark discoveries – again, this lacked a bit of plausibility for such a critical plot point.
Despite these flaws, Crutchley has imagined a captivating storyline with uncomfortable tension and atmosphere and elements of grisliness that are not easy to forget.
One of the best books I"ve read in a long time. Suspenseful, atmospheric and thrilling from the very beginning, it was a joy to read from start to finish.
Following the story of young Ana at her home Iluka, she soon finds dark secrets which threaten to bring the family down to the ground. Ana's and Anahita's stories are told over 24 years and almost mirror each other in the people in their lives who challenge what they have and the decisions they make and both have many twists throughout and while Ana may feel she is the one to break the chain from Iluka, in the end she is realises the power of Iluka and the hold it has on people.
It also reminds me of Where the Crawdads Sing, with the location playing almost as major role as any of the characters and this is a definite next read for those who loved Crawdads.
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