Review: Hold Back the Tide
Title: Hold Back the Tide
Author: Melinda Salisbury
Published: 5 January 2021
Format: Hardback, Library book
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Here are the rules of living with a murderer.
One: Do not draw attention to yourself.
Of course, when you live with a murderer, this is impossible. Even the subtlest of spectres is bound to be noticed. Which leads to the next rule.
Two: If you can’t be invisible, be useful.
Everyone in this quiet lakeside community knows that Alva’s father killed her mother, all those years ago. There wasn’t enough proof to arrest him, though, and with no other family, Alva’s been forced to live with her mother’s murderer, doing her best to survive until she can earn enough money to run away.
One of her chores is to monitor water levels in the loch-a task her father takes very seriously. Their family has been the guardian of the loch for generations. It’s a cold, lonely task, and a few times, Alva can swear she feels someone watching her.
But the more Alva investigates, the more she realizes that the truth can be more monstrous than lies, and that you can never escape your past . .
I have a lot of feels, and I’m not sure how to articulate all of them into a review.
This book was fantastic! Absolutely heartbreaking, yet totally worth the fact that I just want to crawl under a blanket and not move for 3 days. Like, on one hand, how dare Melinda Salisbury make me feel this way. But on the other hand, I completely forgot that fiction can be this powerful.
Here’s the thing about Hold Back the Tide….It’s about monsters. Like, all the different kinds of monsters. Real, what we think are imaginary, and every kind in between. The fact that Alva must face all of these monsters is mind blowing, especially since her support is very limited and the owner of the mill that is draining the loch is doing everything he can to stop her.
Take historical Scotland and mix it with some Stranger Things, and make it spookier, darker, and a bit more intense.
This is my fist time reading Salisbury’s work (I picked this book up on a whim at the library), and I have to say that her writing style captivates me. It was physically difficult to put this book down. Although things start out a little slow, the build up and haunting atmosphere will cover your skin with goosebumps the entire time. This is exactly what I want in a horror-historical-thriller-type book.
The story is told from Alva’s perspective, and she is a great narrator. I love her point of view, even when I’m internally begging her to rethink her choices. Alva is independent, quick-thinking, and determined to keep her town safe. I love how she plans everything out with so much thought and detail. Even when she is at her lowest, Alva still has so much strength, especially once she learns to accept the help of Ren and Gavan.
Murren aka Ren is a character that is so easy to love. He starts out a bit annoying and troublesome, but his affection for Alva is clear, and he clearly respects her as much as he cares for her. Ren also provides the story with some disability representation, as he was born with a twisted leg that makes it difficult for him to walk.
Gavan easily could be the same kind of monster as his father – entitled, pushy, selfish, and unafraid to put others at risk for his own benefit. However, Gavan is surprisingly gentle and only wants to keep the peace. When he, Alva, and Ren team up, it’s the perfect trio (and not a love triangle). They look out for each other, and the boys trust in Alva when the rest of the town wants to believe that she is the same kind of monster as her father.
It feels like Hold Back the Tide threw me off a cliff, and in turn, I want to throw it against a wall (I can’t say much more because, spoilers). However, I want everyone to read this book so you can ugly cry with me! This book destroyed me, please read it. Weirdly enough, I really want to read it again. The story is just over 300 pages. It’s a quick read that will leave you feeling haunted and wanting more.