Book Review: The Bright Fish by J.J. Ward

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COVID-19 made cruises almost impossible for holiday makers this year. Except for through books. Although I’m not really sure you’d want to get onboard this cruise ship…

Goodreads Blurb

The Bright Fish by J.J. Ward

Something’s not right aboard the cruise ship Aurora. But that’s probably what you would think when you’re with the girl you love and everyone else is about fifty years your senior. You’re 3000 miles from home, young and high on emotion. Maybe it just ratchets up the sense of adventure.

And yet perhaps something really is wrong. There’s the passenger everyone thought was dead, but who reappears one evening in the lounge without comment or explanation. And eighty year-old Celia Soper who reads Tarot cards, but only for ‘the history of the world’ – whatever that means. Above all, there are the bright fish, creatures the size of dolphins that appear unannounced alongside the hull, glowing with indescribable colours. And which never seem to inspire the sort of admiration one might expect.

The Bright Fish is a love story. It deals with what it means to live, lose one’s heart and die in the grey dawn of the 21st century. Are we always essentially alone, or is true interdependency possible? Is death our beginning or end, or both?

The Bright Fish Book Cover


After reading quite a few thrillers in a row, The Bright Fish was a pleasant breakout for me. Essentially a mystery, it also incorporated elements of fantasy, an Agatha Christie feel, and comedic scenes. I hadn’t read anything like this previously so I was eager to take in the imagination and writing style of the author. It did not disappoint.

There was no way I was going to guess the ending of The Bright Fish. Sometimes when this happens it is because the story is too outlandish here. I mean, of course when you write in the fantasy genre it will be somewhat out there. What I mean to stay here is that the author managed to develop the storyline in a believable and consistent manner.

Although The Bright Fish is also a romance story, it took me a while to take to Hugo and Ashanta. When I did, I enjoyed them not so much for their love story but for their youthful curiosity, innocence and sense of adventure. Although I don’t think I would have been as willing to investigate the goings on of the Aurora.

The Bright Fish by J.J. Ward is out now.

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