The Waves Burn Bright


In 1988 the Piper Alpha oil platform off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland exploded, killing 167 men. The Waves Burn Bright is a deeply effecting, sensitive exploration of its devastating aftermath on one family.

 Carrie Fraser is 16 when the disaster occurs, her father Marcus one of the survivors. As the narrative moves between past and present the trauma blows open existing fractures, tearing the family apart. In adulthood and after many years living abroad, Carrie, now a respected volcanologist, is returning to Aberdeen to deliver a controversial academic paper. Carrie and her father are estranged, partly due to his post-traumatic stress and related alcoholism, a legacy of Piper Alpha. Will a reconciliation be possible or will the aftershocks of a tragedy that occurred 25 years before continue to drive father and daughter apart?

‘A cauldron of a book, bubbling with anger and magma which might at any moment spill over and bring further devastation. It is both particular to this tragedy in 1988, but also universal; a compelling story exploring how a father’s trauma sends shock waves through a family, changes the pattern of lives – particularly his daughter’s – and makes love risky. However, as well as being about damage and running away, it is also about healing.’
Linda Cracknell, author of Call of the Undertow and Doubling Back

‘This novel deserves a wide readership. It will resonate with anyone who remembers the night of Piper Alpha; with anyone suffering PTSD, for any reason; with those trying to love them and live with them; with those trying to treat them; and with those more generally interested in understanding this area of human experience. It is also simply a compelling and highly engaging story, told with insight and compassion.’ Alison Miller, author of Demo

‘The characters are well drawn and believable; the tortured survivor, struggling with dreams and the need to blot out memories with the bottle; the child damaged as much by the implosion of her parents’ marriage as the diaster; and the guilt ridden mother who has positioned herself outside the close unit of father and daughter but who still wants to revel in Carrie’s achievements. The night of the disaster is sensitively and evocatively handled. […] Digging through a hard exterior to explore the layers beneath can be a dangerous and explosive exercise, whether that’s the earth’s crust or a human’s weaker shell. In this novel both are explored in equally compelling ways.’ Scotsman

‘He’s crafted a powerful portrayal of how the consequences of such a disruptive event can reverberate through people’s lives for decades afterwards … his characters are consistent, making believable, relatable choices.’ The Herald

‘Iain Maloney has done it again. He has written a book that simply must be read. … Maloney leads us through the tale with great sensitivity and understanding. In this, he is masterly. It is an astonishing tour-de-force. It is an object lesson in how an author of fiction should approach the telling of a real-life tragedy of this kind, where 167 men lost their lives in a horrifying inferno. It is really difficult to find the words that are adequate to the task of praising this book. If you want to understand modern Scotland, this book is necessary. If you want an insight into the nature of trauma, this book is essential. It is not an easy read, but it will make you care deeply. That can only benefit you.’ David Kenvyn, For The Joy of Reading

‘The Waves Burn Bright is Iain Maloney’s best book to date, not only an entertaining and thougtful one, but, I would suggest, an important one… Maloney not only pays respect to the memory of that terrible event, he offers fresh insight into how individuals and their families and friends cope – or more often fail to cope – with trauma, and the humanity behind the headlines.’ Alistair Braidwood, Gutter 15 and Scots Whay Hae

‘The Waves Burn Bright takes you on one of those rare, utterly enjoyable literary experiences where you find yourself disappointed to have to close its pages.’ Nothing in the Rule Book

‘It reminded me a little of Iain Banks and his interwoven families — a Crow Road sort of a book — loss, distance, redemption.’ Simon Sylvester, author of The Visitors.

‘The pouer o Maloney’s tale-tellin is fair winnersome whiles… it wul be lang or it eilies awa frae your mynin.’ J. Derrick McClure in Lallans 89.

Included in ‘Best Books of 2016’ by the Scottish Book Trust and Scots Whay Hae

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