Book Reviews

Genre: thriller, horror, YA fiction

Key Stage: Upper KS3/4 (contains references to more mature content)

Rating: ★★★★★

‘Hold back the tide’ by Melinda Salisbury (2020)

Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2021

This novel starts off with an unforgettable line: ‘Here are the rules of living with a murderer’.

Up in the Scottish Highlands, Alva lives with her father, who comes from the lineage of Naomhfuil: sacred bearers of the loch. Her father claims that her mother left; but Alva and the rest of Ormascaula know the truth of what happened that night. Alva herself, all those years ago, heard the gunshots. That’s why she’s planning to run away, to a new life, far, far away from the murderer; her father.

But when she realises a dark, mysterious clan of ancient creatures evoked due to the lowering of the water levels of the loch; everything Alva knew about the town and her family is turned on its head…

Melinda Salisbury creates a rich and unique voice with brilliant words from the Gaelic language- Alva, the protagonist being headstrong, brave and sparky. The story gave an overall, fast-paced and spookily dark seductive thriller infused with deep family roots. No spoilers, but I was impressed by the ending and the characters.

Reviewer:  Muslimah Mirzababaeva

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