Rambling about books

Book review: The House Between Tides, by Sarah Maine

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.

Book cover from Goodreads

‘sustainable development’ means whatever you can get away with this time. Then wait and push a little more, and then more again, until there’s no going back.. A lovely little two-word excuse to screw things up, as long as it returns a profit.

Two things that drew me to this book, and one thing that puts me off of this book. The two things that drew me was the dark tone of the cover, it somehow reminded me of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (and we all know how much I love the book, I even read it twice), it looked ominous and beautiful; the next thing is the simple fact that this, to me, looked like a historical fiction (and I’m a sucker for historical fiction). But, at the other end of spectrum, I’m not a big fan of stories where the main character had just experienced a big loss and decided to retreat into a small town to recover from the loss only to face the demon of their past. And then, there seems to always be that one guy who ends up being the love interest of our main character. Ugh, typical much?

Damn, Girl! 👏🏼👏🏼

I honestly didn’t expect to have enjoyed this book so much. I was literally carrying this book around, to the toilet, to a family gathering, even as I was accompanying me Mum to some sort like a Home Depot kind of thing, I was just going around with my nose stuck in the book. Sure, there were still the typical cliches that I’ve mentioned before; (1) the main character experiencing major loss in her life? ✔️; (2) after the loss, the main character decided to move away in order to start something new to help recover from the loss? ✔️; (3) there was something ominous link to the past between the main character and the new place? ✔️; (4) the link to the past had something to do with a family history? ✔️; (5) there’s another guy who seems to be annoying and quite mysterious in the beginning, only to end up as the main love interest of the main character? ✔️; (6) for some reasons, apparently the guy had a strong connection to the past also? ✔️.

Oh, wow! Will you look at that? A full six check lists of things showing the exact same thing that I found in The Silver Witch. But! Hold down your tongue! Although it shares a lot of basic premises, both stories differs in its genre; whilst The Silver Witch is more fantasy-like (what with some witch and/or shaman-like character in the story), The House Between Tides is more mystery-type as the characters set out to crack the mystery that lies in the house between tides.

So, then, what’s so good about this book? The back and forth story and the getting-to-know your characters in depthly are the two things that made this book stand out. It’s not always about Hetty, even though you think she was your main character, but it is everyone in the area of the house and the people before them who inhabits the island. You grew to sympathise with the characters, and that what makes me so hung up on the story.


Even though I was hating on the character Beatrice so much, with her indecisiveness, her selfishness, and her general existence which I couldn’t really care less, I have to admit that if it weren’t for the excessive writing of Beatrice’s storyline, I wouldn’t have had enjoyed the story this much. Hetty as a character is also frustrating, and I don’t know what’s the appeal on making a female characters like Hetty and Beatrice, they are actually a strong-willed women but was always rendered helpless in the eyes of men, and then was left frustrated at themselves (and making me frustrated too). Other characters, such as Theo, Cameron, James, and even the annoying Giles did their fair share in contributing to this amazing story; a story that for the majority of the book only happen within a small island and the house on it. This is like the Panic Room of book, a whole story that happens only in a small place with a small number of characters, but was as incredible as if this was a story with a longs list of characters that took place all over the world.

If you’re into mystery and a little bit of historical fiction, why not give this book a try? If not for the mystery and the history, give this book a try for its impeccable description of the sceneries in the book; it’ll make you crave for a vacation.

Title: The House Between Tides

Author: Sarah Maine

Genre: Fiction, Historical fiction, Mystery


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