Book Review – Tidepool

Synopsis from Goodreads:

If ye give not willingly, the Lords will rise…

In 1913, Henry Hamilton disappeared while on a business trip, and his sister, Sorrow, won’t rest until she finds out what happened to him. Defying her father’s orders to remain at home, she travels to Tidepool, the last place Henry is known to have visited. Residents of the small, shabby oceanside town can’t quite meet Sorrow’s eyes when she asks about her brother.

When corpses wash up on shore looking as if they’ve been torn apart by something not quite human, Sorrow is ready to return to Baltimore and let her father send in the professional detectives. However, after meeting Ada Oliver, a widow whose black silk dresses and elegant manners set her apart from other Tidepool residents, Sorrow discovers Tidepool’s dark, deadly secret.

With this discovery, some denizens of Tidepool—human and otherwise—are hell-bent on making sure Sorrow never leaves their forsaken town.

This is a Gothic fantasy by new author Nicole Willson with expected publication date of August 3, 3021. I was intrigued by both the setting (the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia in the US) and the time period (1911), and liked the synopsis blurb so I requested an advance reader copy of it. This is the author’s first book and it shows a bit, I think. Overall, I liked the storyline and the creepy seaside town vibe, as well as the main character of Sorrow Hamilton. There are definitely Crimson Peak and House of Salt and Sorrow aspects in this book so if you enjoyed either/both of those, you’ll probably like this one too.

The book was a quick read and while sometimes with fantasy-type novels I wish there had been a bit more editing for this standalone book I actually felt it read more like a novella. I could have done with more of everything, although I liked what I did get to read. The town of Tidepool has the feel of somewhere time has passed by, but I would have liked for a bit more comparison with the how the outside world has moved on into the early 20th century. There’s a brief mention of the Great War, but it wasn’t mentioned again and I think could have had a stronger meaning attached to it. The book is told from a few different perspectives – Sorrow’s, of course, as the main character, but also two residents of the town, Ada Oliver and her brother, Quintin. Both the Oliver’s have secrets and a secret past that are touched on in the dialogue, as well as some flashback-type chapters, but I would have loved more of the past history of both of them. The other character who seemed less well-developed than I wanted was Charlie, a friend and business partner of Sorrow’s missing brother, Henry, who comes to find Sorrow in Tidepool after she’s gone searching for her brother. A bit more of a back story on his relationship with Henry and how he knows the family would have been a nice addition.

I’m giving this one 3-3/4 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed reading it but wished for a bit more substance to the story. A good first effort and I’ll look for others by this author in the future.

Thanks to NetGalley and The Parliament House Press for an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

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