I got this book because the eBook was 83p on Amazon and it has a pretty cover. I went into it blind, also because the blurb does not tell you anything about the story. It turned out to be my favourite book of the year so far, and in my top favourite books of all time. I read it in one day, and it’s been a week or two now, but I still can’t wrap my head around it, or even get it out of my head.
‘Hold Back the Tide’ is an incredibly intense novel. It’s my first Salisbury book so I have no previous knowledge of her work to compare it to, but if they’re all this high quality, I’m about to become her biggest supporter. She knows how to craft an atmosphere that grips you by the throat from the first sentence and doesn’t let go until the last word. The narrative itself is quite simple but quick and exciting, basically a perfect YA novel for you to sink your teeth into.
Something about the writing style speaks to me. It’s atmospheric and dark and enchanting, giving the story is unique feel. It’s set in a historical (but an exact time isn’t mentioned) close-knit village in Scotland and the isolation of the setting contributes perfectly to the horror of the plot. The story starts off slow to take time to build the world and the characters, but it’s far from boring. Most of the reveals are built up in a way where you can see them coming, but they’re still a shock. It makes the story make sense, no matter how strange it might be.
I found Alva’s role within the story more interesting than her character, as well as her relationship with the other characters. She and her father live on the mountain away from their village and have to watch over the loch and make sure the water levels are high. Alva believes her dad to be a murderer and the book opens with a few rules she’s made for herself which she thinks will keep her alive. My one negative point for this book is that her dad isn’t really portrayed to be a murderer or even a violent man. He comes across more as someone who is overly protective – controlling, even – and has a lot of secrets. Not really a murderer (in my opinion).
The descriptions of the monsters took me by surprise. It only took a few small clever details to create something completely terrifying and describe it in a way that felt like it was standing right in front of me. I’ve seen a lot of reviews describe the monsters as vampires, which I think is accurate in terms of them being monsters that can ‘turn’ a victim with a bite.
The ending made the book – and the entire story – because it was so fitting. It was beautifully heart-breaking, fast and vivid, the kind of ending where all you can do is hold your breath. The last few chapters are a series of twists and moments that made me gasp out loud, and that’s not even mentioning the actual final ending. It was unreal.
Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 stars)