EOTI cover fixedOnce in a while, I have the unique privilege of  being the first person- outside of editors and publisher folks- to read a galley, and the first to review it. This is one of those times.  I’m excited to provide the first review of Frank Reddy’s debut novel, Eyes on The Island. 

From the book summary:

NOT LONG AGO, Will Fordham was a charismatic young preacher on the rise. But a family trip to the beach cost him everything. Will was struck by an unexpected seizure while wading in the ocean, drowning his young son. In the aftermath of the child’s death, Will lost his marriage, his sobriety, and his faith. Once the pastor of his own church, Will is now little more than a groundskeeper. But when Will is offered a new assignment at a small church on one of Georgia’s barrier islands, he reluctantly accepts the opportunity to put his life back together. Owned by a wealthy heiress and accessible only by ferry, this unspoiled island is home to an artists’ colony and only a handful of permanent residents. But once on the island, Will befriends a young boy who tells him unsettling stories about the other islanders. Are they merely products of the boy’s overactive imagination, or does something sinister lie beneath the island’s peaceful facade?

Eyes on the Island is a fast, entertaining read. I had a vague sense of discomfort and creepiness reading it – the good kind, like when you’re watching a thriller and tension is taut and you know something is about to happen, but what?

There’s a cast of characters, few of them who they appear to be.  That, combined with Will’s visions, keep the reader wondering if what they are reading is what’s really going on, or some figment of Will’s broken mind.  It’s like everything is slightly off kilter, but you can’t put your finger on what is bothering you.

Reddy’s writing is straightforward and authentic. He is not one bent towards melodramatic speech. He captures the atmosphere of Savannah and the Georgia barrier islands, with their mysterious and otherworldly histories, in a way that anyone familiar with the area will recognize.

I confess, the plot didn’t go quite the way I was expecting, but I liked the direction it did take better than what I thought might happen.  The ending is a bit fantastical, but that’s OK. This is a work of fiction, and the ending fits with the rest of the story.  I hope Reddy is at work on his next novel. I’m looking forward to reading more from him.

Eyes on the Island will be released in two weeks.  You can find it here.

And now, here’s a little about the author:

A veteran journalist, FRANK REDDY has written for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curbed Atlanta, Creative Loafing, Atlanta Magazine, Gainesville Times, and Gwinnett Daily Post. He has won multiple awards from The Associated Press and Georgia Press Association for feature writing, business writing, and hard news coverage. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, Joy, and daughter, Stella. Eyes on the Island is his first novel.