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I thoroughly enjoy a good Gothic romance, with Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca still one of the greatest. The House Between Tides has the right elements, but somehow it seems to shy away from the full emotional melodrama that gives a good Gothic its flavour. 

sarah maineIn 1910, the young and lovely Beatrice travels with her new husband, famous artist Theo Blake, to his grand home on an island in the Outer Hebrides in the far northwest of Scotland.

In that beautiful and wild setting, odd storm clouds begin to appear on the fringes of their idyllic married life.

The strain gets worse as Beatrice finds herself on the locals’ side in a passionate conservation dispute. Beatrice’s story is intercut with that of Hetty, who has just inherited Muirlan House in 2010.

The glorious setting, the faded grandeur of the house and its famous history make it a promising prospect for a fancy hotel.

As Hetty investigates her new property, wondering what’s salvageable, human bones are found in the foundations of the old conservatory, putting all her plans on hold.

Her boyfriend Giles is keen to push through local objections, but Hetty is less certain, and takes the time to try to understand the history of her family’s ties to the place.

This debut novel has all the elements of a classic Gothic romance novel, but without the hints of supernatural horror.

It’s an easy and highly enjoyable read, but mostly for the historic side; the modern baddies, in particular, are thin stereotypes, and Hetty takes an annoyingly long time to assert herself.

My review was first published in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine. The book was first published in June 2016.

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