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Good Reads Review: Below Deck by Sophie Hardcastle

**mild spoilers ahead**

A book that I’ve been itching to get round to for the last year, this effort from Sophie Hardcastle is a quiet, but powerful battle cry of a novel about mental illness, consent, and the haunting power of memories.

It follows a young graduate named Oli who meets two strangers and travels to the Coral Sea, which begins a long journey that brings out the best and worst of humanity.

There is so much to like about this story, from its strong messages to it's life affirming characters. Mac and Maggie are especially fun and well-realised, really drawing you into the quaint beauty of life at sea.

The story takes a very dark turn during its second passage, which makes it a confronting read at times. Despite this, it displays its message with quiet rage in the second half, really bringing the message home of how damaging memories and events can be.

Hardcastle's themes really hit home in it's final act, showing the reader the value of healing, acceptance, life and more. While there are some moments here that veer almost into cliched territory, the ending is especially well realised and heart-warming.

Below Deck is a book that rewards you the more you dive deeper into, and is highly recommended.


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