book review: Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel

The backstory: When I read Susanna Daniel's debut novel, Stiltsville, I gushed that "it's the most emotionally engaging novel I've read in quite some time." It not only made my top ten of 2010, it came in at number two. Given my love for Stiltsville, I was eager to see Daniel return to Miami with her second novel, Sea Creatures.

The basics: In 1992, Georgia's college admissions consulting business has failed. When her husband Graham doesn't receive tenure at Northwestern, they move back to her native Miami, where a friend of Graham's has offered him a job studying hurricanes. Their three-year-old son Frankie hasn't spoken for eighteen months, but there seems to be no medical reason why.

My thoughts: I foolishly sat down to start reading Sea Creatures before work one morning, and it was a struggle to not call in sick. One again, Daniel's writing captured me from the opening page. It's the first print book to capture me with writing and character since I read Curtis Sittenfeld's Sisterland last month.

Georgia narrates her story from the future, which gives an air of importance to all of the novel's events. There  is also a poignancy to her story, one that perhaps only reflecting on the events yet to come for the reader. The result is a brilliantly plotted, masterful contemporary novel. When I turned the last page, I was in awe of how much Daniel fit into the novel. Each character, even the minor ones, are fully formed. Parts of the novel feel like an epic, as Daniel fills the story with past, present and future.

Favorite passage: "People speak of strength in times of crisis, as if strength were some great beast that swoops in to gird us, to repair our voices and limbs when it seems they might fail. But to this day, I don't know exactly what we mean when we speak of strength."

The verdict: Sea Creatures is the best book I've read in 2013. It's a beautiful, intelligent, and heart-wrenching novel, and I hope it becomes a modern classic.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 320 pages
Publication date: July 30, 2013
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Sea Creatures from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit all the tour stops, visit Susanna Daniel's website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. I have Stiltsville on my tbr list, but the description of this new book wasn't convincing me. Your review, though, makes me feel that this is one I shouldn't miss!

  2. This was one of our book club's choices for August. Thanks for your review. It sounds great.

  3. This one sounds great to me and then I waffle and think maybe I won't enjoy the premise. Your review has given me a boost of confidence!

  4. THANKS for this great review. The book sounds GREAT.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

  5. Haven't stopped reading but have been holding my breath since 'Sisterland,' waiting for 'Sea Creatures.' I don't think its by accident that these two authors are such good mates. About 60 or 70 pages in but it feels so much like 'Stiltsville' which I read for the first time this past winter. I thought it was magically brilliant. When I finished I knew I wanted to hear more of that same voice.

    I couldn't agree more with how much Susanna Daniel fits into the relative tiny space of a single novel. It's as if it were an olde masters giant landscape rendered on a tiny mosaic. I'd say without reservation before conclusion, it will be my favorite read this year.

    Richard Kennedy

  6. Have this one to read soon and excited to start. A friend read Stiltsville and raved also. Glad I have something awesome to look forward to.

  7. That's some huge praise for a book! I'm reading Sea Creatures right now. I'm also impressed how real Daniels make her characters. You almost forget that you're reading a book.

  8. If I were you I might have called in sick. :)

    I'm so glad that this latest book from Susanna was such a hit for you! I love it when an author consistently surprises me with how good her books are.

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.


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