Hold Back the Tide
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 . . .
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.
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.