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The Visitors is Simon Sylvester’s debut novel, and is a mixture of genres, incorporating fantasy, crime and horror. The main storyline revolves around Flo, a young girl who is isolated on an island with a sparse population; focusing on Flo’s interaction with the people on the island, as well as the new residents of Dog Rock. Underlying all of the characterisation, there is a crime element as people start to disappear. This starts to build in the latter half of the novel.

The story is engaging and there are nods to many different genres. The blurb on the novel is slightly misleading, as the majority of it doesn’t have a massive crime element, concentrating more on myth and character development. Throughout however, it becomes clear why this was needed. Although it has been marketed as a crime novel, there is a minimal amount of emphasis put on the mystery of who caused the killings. Instead, the author focuses on the few characters in the novel and continually develops them throughout. There are a limited number of characters within the novel, so it’s easy to pick up on which character is likely to have caused all the killings. However, Simon Sylvester does well in ensuring that the reader is not just reading to discover that mystery, but also to see the final conclusion of the characters.

The Visitors mixes elements of many different genres to produce a well-crafted book suitable for many readers. Crime readers may not enjoy the book as much as they first thought. The novel should be judged on the quality of the characters and the dramatisation rather than the ending of the who-done-it storyline. Sylvester’s aim is to please many lovers of different genres. Although rather slow in parts, this is to incorporate the mythical element of the novel and to explore the growing relationship between key characters. The defining element of The Visitors is the way it ends up being quite moving once all the revelations of the novel are revealed. It’s well written, well plotted and deserves more attention than it is currently getting when based on its fantasy and character element. It certainly belongs on the bookshelf of any fantasy lover.

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