Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 221
Haunting story set in historical Scottish Highlands
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Alva lives with her father in a small town in the Scottish Highlands. Nine years ago, Alva overheard her father killing her mother, and she's been trying to survive ever since. The best way to ensure she lives? Help her father monitor the loch, a duty that has been passed down from generations. Just when Alva is planning to run away from the town that shuns her and the father who scares her, something comes out of the loch. Something that is more dangerous than anything Alva has seen before...

What I Loved:

The setting: Though the exact time period isn't specified, the setting of the historical Highlands in a small remote village is incredible. Salisbury captured daily living in a mysterious town choking on secrets and eager to judge perfectly, while also highlighting the absolute beauty of the mountains, the loch, and the warmth of neighbors who keep open minds.

The tension: There are so many lines of strong tension throughout the story that I felt my muscles tensing as I read more than once. It starts with the tension between Alva and her father, the tension of Alva being so close to escaping but knowing that the slightest misstep could throw her plans off, and moves to the terrifying scare of the creatures from the loch. There's even romantic tension between Alva and her friend, Ren, that, while slow burn, is still fiery.

What Left Me Wanting More:

The plot/pacing: While there is great tension, the trajectory of the plot and pacing felt unbalanced at times. In particular, the resolution left something to be desired. It had a sense of incompletion, of sudden change that lacked a strong falling action downward slope to carry it out. The big twist at the very, very end was a disappointment. This definitely isn't a story of hope or happy endings, though readers who like sorrowful endings will likely enjoy it.

Final Thoughts:

HOLD BACK THE TIDE is a haunting, ethereal tale that echoes long ago legends. This is an excellent pick for readers who like historical horror with surprising endings.
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