Review | The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

Title: The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

Published: August 2, 2016

Genre(s): mystery, historical fiction, adult

Read as: paperback, owned

Rating: 4.5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Following the death of her last living relative, Hetty Deveraux leaves London and her strained relationship behind for Muirlan, her ancestral home in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. She intends to renovate the ruinous house into a hotel, but the shocking discovery of human remains brings her ambitious restoration plans to an abrupt halt before they even begin. Few physical clues are left to identify the body, but one thing is certain: this person did not die a natural death.

Hungry for answers, Hetty discovers that Muirlan was once the refuge of her distant relative Theo Blake, the acclaimed painter and naturalist who brought his new bride, Beatrice, there in 1910. Yet ancient gossip and a handful of leads reveal that their marriage was far from perfect; Beatrice eventually vanished from the island, never to return, and Theo withdrew from society, his paintings becoming increasingly dark and disturbing.

What happened between them has remained a mystery, but as Hetty listens to the locals and studies the masterful paintings produced by Theo during his short-lived marriage, she uncovers secrets that still reverberate through the small island community—and will lead her to the identity of the long-hidden body. (Goodreads)

Do you ever pick up a book and you aren’t sure exactly what drew you to it, why it called to you, but you find your brain won’t focus on any other story until you read that particular one? That is what happened to me with The House Between Tides and, honestly, I am still unsure why precisely this book called to me so loudly. I’m a self professed reader of mainly fantasy and sci-fi. Sure, I dip my toes into other genres and typically enjoy them but I usually have a reason for reading them.

This one? Well, this one I just had to. It wouldn’t let me rest until I did.

This book is written in both a contemporary setting in the year 2010 and historically in 1910. Multiple timeline stories don’t always work but in this story it was well executed. It was easy to tell when you were and who you were with from the tone of the chapter even if you hadn’t glanced at the chapter heading that told you what character you were with and what year they were in.

That aside, The House Between Tides absolutely swept me away. From page one I was invested in this story with it’s fascinating location and varied cast of characters. In 2010 we spend our time with Hetty, the unexpected inheritor of Muirlan House. Muirlan is a wreck. The floors are rotted away, the roof leaks and is missing in places, the walls are cracked, and overall it is more a ruin now than an actual house. Then in 1910 we find ourselves in the same house, in pristine condition, with the outwardly reserved yet inwardly passionate Beatrice who has a strained relationship with her new husband but wants nothing more than to find joy in her life.

Oddly, the house was something I really loved about the story. It had its own story and it felt almost like an active spectator to the drama and household tension. The house saw all and knew all and it had moods from dark and drab to sunny and airy. Muirlan may had been the setting of this story, but she felt real and alive and very much like an unwilling observer of the lives that teemed within her walls across the years.

The story itself was also very well thought out. No matter which time frame you were in, the stories and the character’s actions wound together seamlessly. You could watch a scene happen in 1910 and feel all of the emotion and tension that came with it and then see how it affected something in 2010 or watch as Hetty discovered an incident, action, or how it somehow affected her in 2010. I felt that the writer’s planning and execution of those transposing scenes were very well done.

This book had tension, feeling, and heart and overall I absolutely loved it. Even being able to take a fairly reasonable guess at the mystery did not detract from my enjoyment. Overall this was a very enjoyable read and I’m grateful to whatever force was at play trying to get me to read this.

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