Award-winning author Sarah Tolmie's The Fourth Island is a beautiful, mournful historical fantasy
Huddled in the sea off the coast of Ireland is a fourth Aran Island, a hidden island peopled by the lost, reachable only in moments of despair. Whether drowned at sea, trampled by the counter-reformation, or exiled for clinging to the dead, no outsiders can reach the island without giving in to despair. And although the island offers shelter for these vanished people, it also plants seeds in them that are toxic to the outside world.
When a body washes up on the shores of a tiny village, it brings mystery with it. No one recognizes the drowned man, nor can any nearby village identify his body. As the mystery sinks into the ground, it begins to change the village, and those who cling too closely to their grief die and turn to soil.
Sarah Tolmie is a poet, speculative fiction writer, finalist for the Campbell Award and professor of English at the University of Waterloo. Her books of poetry, Trio in 2015 and The Art of Dying in 2018, both with McGill-Queen’s University Press, were shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award and the Griffin Prize, respectively. Her fiction, published with Aqueduct Press, includes the novels The Little Animals (2019) and The Stone Boatmen (2014), the dual novella collection Two Travelers (2016), and the short fiction collection NoFood (2014).