Review: The Wizard by the Sea by Anna Wineheart

On his tenth birthday, Connor trips over a wizard on the shore. Amidst glowing clovers and roses drawn in the sand, the wizard shelters him from the rain and promises to teach him magic. Three years later, they meet again, and Connor becomes his student.

Yates has never been a mentor—he doesn't deserve the privilege. But Connor comes to him after a tragedy, broken and helpless, and stays for years. Without realizing it, they fall in love. Yates knows he shouldn't: he has shaped this boy into a man. At a loss, he pretends not to notice Connor's affections... until his nineteenth birthday, when they celebrate a hard-won victory and give in to desire. Ashamed, Yates banishes his student, leaving a hole in both their hearts.

Four years later and still lonely, a tidal wave sweeps Connor back into Yates' life. When they meet again, he discovers that Yates has withheld secrets from him, secrets that could change his life. Their past is fractured, their future uncertain. But the one thing Connor knows is that he's always loved the wizard by the sea.

Holy moly did I love this book. It's different than the main run of books out there and I truly enjoyed that fact. 

Connor is just a child when he meets Yates for the first time, thereafter he sees the Wizard by the Sea on a regular - if infrequent - basis over the coming years. The story follows the development of their relationship. It's not a quick development, not a rush from boy and man to adult lovers. It is slow. It is believable. It fucking well broke my heart a trillion times.

Yates starts as Connor's sometimes friend. A huge influence on Connor, awakening something inside that Connor didn't know existed. He'd not been told that magic ran in his fathers family, his father had none and viewed it as a  bad thing. They were simple people, a fisherman and his wife and son. They lived a hard but uncomplicated life. Yates offered something different to Connor, something beyond that which the boy already knew.

The friendship became more important to Connor as tragic events took place, as his father turned to alcohol, as the life he'd known thus far changed and slipped away. Eventually Yates became mentor and Connor apprentice. Feelings were growing with each passing year; Yates was determined to deny them though.

This is front and centre a love story. A love of family. A love of friendship. Of mentor. And finally of man and man. it is a love story that is repeatedly denied. That is given then taken - because of circumstance and fear and honour and a million different reasons. 

There is a timeless quality to this story, it is impossible to set it in a time or place, I felt. It was ethereal. Yet it was also remarkably solid. The characters were so true and defined and honest it gave the story an anchor. I loved both Yates and Connor, they were interesting and real. I waned to know them more - and with each page turned I did. Connor particularly I felt I understood. His heart was mine during this story.; every scratch and bruise and tiny bit of love and warmth it received I felt with every part of my own heart.

I also, despite him being flawed, had a real soft spot for Connor's father. I liked that he didn't judge his son. He didn't worry about Yates' age or the fact that he was male. He had his own struggle and was far, far from perfect but again he felt real and despite everything I know he did love his son.

My kindle has loads of notes for this story - most of them saying things like go ahead, break my heart! Anna Wineheart is a new to me author but I will certainly be looking out for books by her in the future.
A copy of this book was given in return for an honest review.
For more information see Goodreads.

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