Book Review – Hold Back the Tide by Melinda Salisbury

hold back the tideFrom internationally bestselling, acclaimed author Melinda Salisbury comes a darkly seductive story of murder, betrayal, love, and family secrets in a small town in the Scottish Highlands.

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…


My rating: Cyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full star

This book blew me away.  Honestly, I should have expected it, because I love Mel’s writing, but it still took me by surprise.  It is so understatedly gorgeous.  Every word feels purposeful.

Hold Back the Tide is set in a timeless remote highland town, and it is clear on every page. The sense of isolation, the sense of small-town mindset and the literal atmosphere of being on the loch is in every word. This is honestly so stunning, I can’t accurately portray it.

While this is a fantasy / horror genre, it is not typical of either – in the best of ways.  It’s mostly just a great read that I would recommend to anyone regardless of what they normally read.  It’s fairly short too, so a quick read.  I buddy read it with friends, and putting down at the end of each day was like agony.  Every time we stopped, there was a reveal that made us all want to read on.  Several times we were cursing Mel’s good name (sorry! we love you really!) in the name of suspense.

And then there’s the ending.  I just LOVED it. It was exactly what I wanted and perfect for the tone of the book.  It hurt me to read in just the best way.  There’s no way I can say any more without spoiling it, but if you have read the ending, please feel free to message me just to flail about it!!

Alva is an interesting lead – she’s terrified of her father, outcast by the village (except by Ren and Galvan, who I both loved!), and just trying to escape.  But slowly she gets drawn into what is happening to the loch, to the town, even as she continues to plan to leave. There’s also some excellent commentary on small town life and power, in the characters of Giles (I have rarely hated a character as much as him OMG) and Maggie (who is fantastic but can’t stand against the town).

This is genuinely a book I feel I will come back to again (not least because I want to reread it again soon, all at once this time!) and again.  I can’t recommend it more.


Buy Hold Back the Tide from Amazon UK.

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