Tuesday, 2 August 2016

"The House Between Tides" by Sarah Maine | Book Review

The House Between Tides
by Sarah Maine
Publishing Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 400
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Amazon | Kobo

After her last living relative dies, Hetty heads to her family's long-abandoned ancestral home, Muirlan, in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. When she arrives, she discovers that a century-old skeleton has been found under the floorboards. Her plans to renovate the place come to a grinding halt while she and some locals search for clues as to who the murder victim might be.

As it turns out, Theo Blake, a famous painter and naturalist (and a distant relative of Hetty's), came to Muirlan in 1910 with his new wife, Beatrice. The two were there for a short time, and their stories are shrouded in mystery - Theo seemed to be obsessed with a local boy, Beatrice disappeared suddenly from the island, and Theo eventually became a shut-in, his paintings reflecting his dark turn.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that the writing style is beautiful. In a book where art is so central to the story, it feels right to have the writing reflect that as well. Maine writes stunning descriptions, not only of the scenery, but of the characters' feelings. Her writing is poignant and so fitting for this story.

The story spans 100 years and we learn it through two different timelines - 1910, when Beatrice and Theo are living in the house, and 2010, when Hetty and the locals are searching for answers about the house's mysterious inhabitants. I was drawn mostly to Beatrice and her story in 1910, and always found myself wanting to read more of her story. She is an independent woman with such gumption, and I found her intriguing. She's brought to this place that, initially, she doesn't care for (she'd rather be vacationing in Europe), but that she tries to enjoy for her husband's sake. She ultimately gets wrapped up in what could be considered a scandal if people found out about it, but I was rooting for her all the way.

I felt a kind of disconnect with the love story in Hetty's timeline - I didn't really feel a spark between the two characters and so when something did happen between them, my reaction was something like, "Oh...ok". I wasn't opposed to that pairing, and in fact I think it was a good fit, but there wasn't much leading up to it that had made me root for them. When I was reading her timeline, I found myself mostly interested in finding out who the body belonged to.

The mystery unravels at a good pace and I must say, I very much enjoyed this book. If you like mysteries, love stories, and switching between timelines, I definitely recommend reading The House Between Tides.

*This book was sent to me by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.

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