STARRED REVIEW
January 2021

Hold Back the Tide

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Ever since Alva’s Da, the latest in an ancestral line of caretakers of the loch near their village, murdered her mother seven years ago, Alva has been secretly planning her escape to a new life in town.

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Ever since Alva’s Da, the latest in an ancestral line of caretakers of the loch near their village, murdered her mother seven years ago, Alva has been secretly planning her escape to a new life in town. Recently, her father has begun disappearing at night, demanding that Alva not leave their cottage after dark—which is a problem since Alva needs to meet her friend Ren, a boy from the nearby town who’s bringing her the supplies she’ll need to make her escape. Alva is beginning to worry that Da suspects something.

When Da shows Alva that one of the nets he’s set around the loch’s depths has been shredded with mysterious precision and demands that she replace it with a new net, it seems to confirm her concerns. And then she sees the first creature.

Drawing on Scottish mythology, author Melinda Salisbury pulls readers into a world of ribbon dances and tea trays, where woolen cloaks and silver horseshoes abound and dark, damp caves hold ancient secrets. She combines these folkloric motifs with the contemporary issue of climate change: The bustling town’s mill is draining the loch to dangerously low levels, allowing that which has long been concealed by the water’s depths to emerge. As Alva begins to question every assumption she’s ever made about her father, the loch and the villagers who have always shunned them, time may be running out. The creatures only appear after dusk, but the chilly autumn days are giving way to the long nights of winter.

Misty, atmospheric and suspenseful, Hold Back the Tide alternates between tenderness and violence as it explores how the choices we make influence our environment and why that matters. Who are the monsters here, and who is just trying to survive? It’s perfect for readers who loved Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races and Margo Lanagan’s The Brides of Rollrock Island, or anyone who wants to curl up with a blanket, a cup of tea and a good story on a gloomy day.

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