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Trapped in an isolated old house on Martha’s Vineyard in winter, Diana Barlow is either seeing ghosts or losing her mind. After an estrangement from her parents, Diana came to Martha’s Vineyard to start a new life with her husband Ford and young daughter Samantha. The beautiful Victorian house that Ford inherited seemed the perfect home for a fresh beginning. But in the winter, when the tourists go home and the island is deserted, Diana is afraid she’s going crazy. Specters of people long dead flicker in and out of her vision. The antique dolls in her house never stay where they’re put. Samantha suddenly has a whole group of imaginary friends who live in the house and tell her terrible things. And Ford is becoming increasingly moody, unpredictable, and violent. The mysteries of the old house deepen when Diana finds a strange book in the basement — the journal of Elizabeth Steebe, whose husband built the house in 1871. Diana finds an eerie parallel between her own life and Elizabeth’s, as she reads Elizabeth’s fear-filled chronicle of her religion-crazed husband’s descent into abuse and insanity. As Diana researches Elizabeth’s fate, she begins to wonder whether the phantoms she encounters on the Vineyard are illusions or a glimpse into the past, and whether Elizabeth’s journal was left to her as a warning. While Diana investigates the horrifying history of the house, the past, the present, the living and the dead fatally intertwine, and Diana realizes she and her daughter must escape — if Ford and the house will let her.


In the Midst of the Sea is a gripping story of supernatural horror and psychological realism that slowly reveals that the greatest danger is the people closest to you in your own home.

"Dark, emotional, and incredibly creepy ... In the Midst of the Sea is a haunting debut from a talented new voice." (Foreword Reviews)


"In his novel In the Midst of the Sea, Sean Padraic McCarthy gives us an unnerving ghost story that tackles domestic abuse, addiction, and crumbling familial relations. A book filled with compelling characters, beautiful prose, and unsettling specters, In the Midst of the Sea will spread its fog into you, fill you with a chilling sense of unease, but tempt you to read further, as McCarthy has managed to create a pitch perfect blend of psychological realism and horror that will appease fans of literary fiction and horror alike. Trust me, this novel will haunt you long after you put it down." (duncan b. barlow, author of Of Flesh and Fur, The City, Awake, and A Dog Between Us)

"In the Midst of the Sea is a beautifully written and multifaceted novel ... reminiscent of Stephen King's novel The Shining, but with lively twists and unique notions that make McCarthy's characters and story stand on their own. It really is a book that you won't want to close until the story is over." (Michael Hathaway, publisher, Chiron Review

"Sean Padraic McCarthy's lyrical gift contributes substantially to this literally haunting tale. Spanning a narrative trajectory between 1871 and 1994, the story depicts two comparable families in two contradistinct times, occupying the same house on Martha's Vineyard in shades of Turn of the Screw and The Haunting of Hill House. Long after the reader has turned the final page, McCarthy's portrayals of both heart and spirit will continue to make their presence felt." (Toni Graham, author of The Suicide Club

"Strong characterizations and startling imagery give powerful dimensions to this riveting novel. The book is both historical and contemporary, literary and startling, and the ghosts ― if ghosts they may be called ― are wonderfully understated. A very compelling read." (James Hanna, author of Call Me Pomeroy, The Siege, and A Second, Less Capable Head: and Other Rogue Stories

"Fans of ghost stories will enjoy this one by Sean McCarthy. The author gives us not one, but two sets of very active ghosts and spirits, one of whom is apparently a time traveler. Add in a dysfunctional family whose members all attempt unlikely solutions to their problems, a naive but resourceful young mother, and McCarthy offers up a rousing good read." (Vern Miller, publisher/editor, Fifth Wednesday Journal)

"Dysfunctional families, creepy dolls, dangerous ghosts, In the Midst of the Sea creates compelling characters whose tragic lives will haunt you." (Alisha Costanzo, author and editor, Transmundane Press)

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