“The Mystery of the Sea” by Bram Stoker
Rating: 4 Water Towers
Archibald Hunter was spending his annual vacation in Cruden Bay, Scotland when he sees two women and a man walking abreast. Suddenly, he has a vision of the man carrying a coffin and the two women walking behind. Just as suddenly, he sees the three walking normal again. Very odd.
As this was happening, Archie was being watched by an old woman, Gormala. She had seen Archie’s shocked look at what he had just seen and tells him that he has the gift (if you can call it that) of “Second Sight”. This means he can see the future, and that the next day he will find out what his vision meant.
Sure enough, the next day Archie finds out that the child of two of the adults he saw walking had drowned. A series of “Second Sight” visions follow including the death of an accomplished seaman by drowning in the often rough Cruden Bay near the rock formations known as the Skares (see this picture of Cruden Bay and the Skares) and the vision of a procession of ghosts spanning hundreds of years of seaman who have drowned in the Skares..including the latest victim who Archie is presently carrying to Whinnyfold after failing to save him. His death was predetermined, and no one could have saved him. As Gormala states: “Am I to wark against the Fates when They have spoken! The Dead are dead indeed when the Voice has whispered in their ears”.
Archie loves the area around Cruden Bay so much that he has started to build a house on the cliff overlooking the Skares. One day he spots two women in trouble and he rushes in to save them, which he does. One woman, the younger of the two, ends up being Archie’s love, Marjory Drake. Marjory is an American on the run from a Spanish group that wants to find her (the story takes place during the Spanish American War and Marjory, a rich heiress who helped the U.S. fight the war, is not liked by Spain).
To help furnish his new house, Archie purchases an old oak chest from an auctioneer. In this chest are very old and yellowed papers written in an odd cipher code. Being curious Archie and then later Marjory undertake the task of deciphering the code. Once they do, they find that it leads to a treasure buried in the area over 300 years ago by the Spanish Armada.
Archie and Marjory embark on an effort to find this treasure and along the way experience the adventure of a lifetime, and find that true love conquers all.
“The Mystery of the Sea” is a terrific book written by a true master. It may not reach the heights of “Dracula” (which I give 5 WaterTowers), but, it is a wonderful adventure mystery mixing information about ciphers and codes, romance, and the supernatural.