Hold Back the Tide Review

Title: Hold Back the Tide
Author: Melinda Salisbury
  March 2020
Publisher: Scholastic
Readership: Upper Middle Grade/YA
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★
RRP: $16.99

I received a copy of Hold Back the Tide from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A quiet lakeside community with one open secreteveryone knows that Alvas father killed her mother, all those years ago. When there are rumours of dark creatures rising from the lake, Alva assumes that rumours are all they are. But, as terror begins to hold the village in its grip, Alva comes to realise that there may well be a connection between the secrets of her past and the horror of her present.

Full confession – I had no idea what I was getting myself into for this book. I, so innocently, through this would be a mystery-thriller for the upper-MG/YA readership group, and boy was I wrong. This is so much more up my alley than I every thought.

Set in a world a lot like ours, but in a time that might be past – It’s kind of hard to get an exact time-period on it – in a place very much like Scotland, Alva Douglas is quietly plotting her escape from Ormscaula, a town in which she is a pariah and her father is a suspected murderer. She’s set to leave when the unthinkable happens and suddenly the world she thought she knew shifts dramatically and becomes more dangerous than she thought possible.

On the surface (pardon the water pun), this book seems like a mystery-thriller and it definitely reads like that for the beginning of the book. The book even begins with the sentence: Here are the rules of living with a murderer… So you think you know what you’re going to get.

You don’t.

The clues are actually in the last little bit of the blurb: A chilling tale about the dire costs of secrecy and greed, Hold Back the Tide will sink its teeth into you – and never let you go.

Now, I can’t say exactly why, if you’re not able to take those clues and run with it, because I wouldn’t want to ruin the reveal (but it’s good!). Suffice to say, this sits very comfortably in the urban fantasy genre and is very atmospheric, and quite a dark read overall.

Alva is a character who seems very sure of herself and her world at the beginning of the book. She doesn’t question the things that she knows: her mother is dead and her father is the murderer and she is left living in his house. Her father works the loch and the local townspeople have no love for either of them. Her only way to survive, she surmises, is escape, and she’s got it plotted down to the minute, enlisting the help of childhood ‘friend’ and fellow town outcast, Ren, who knows she’s got something planned, just not what.

And then the unthinkable happens – Alva sees something she doesn’t believe, and then people in the town start to go missing. From there, events progress quickly, and this is a book that once it does get its hooks in you, you won’t be able to put it down. It’s definitely not for the squeamish (or the claustrophobic).

I’ve never read any of Melinda Salisbury’s other books, but I’m not finding myself in the situation of really wanting to, because this book surprised me a lot and I love that about it.

2 Replies to “Hold Back the Tide Review”

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