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ARC Review/Tour Stop: Hold Back the Tide, by Melinda Salisbury

HOLD BACK THE TIDE, by Melinda Salisbury

Imprint: Scholastic Press

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-68131-4

Page Count: 336 pages

⭐⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*I received an ARC from Scholastic Press free of charge, and my opinions are completely my own.*


Here are the rules of living with a murderer.

One: Do not draw attention to yourself.

Of course, when you live with a murderer, this is impossible. Even the subtlest of spectres is bound to be noticed. Which leads to the next rule.

Two: If you can't be invisible, be useful.


The small loch-side town that Alva lives by may be a community, but not one that welcomes her - not since her father murdered her mother many years ago. No proof was ever found and no arrests made, so Alva has lived in fear of her life, planning towards the day where she can run away from the horrors of her childhood. In the meantime, Alva still has to attend to the everyday day tasks of being guardian of the loch, just as her family has done so for generations. When she goes to monitor the water level in the lochs, Alva could swear that someone is watching her. As Alva investigates the mystery of the loch and her father’s past, the more she learns that sometimes the real monsters are not what we assume to know.

Hold Back the Tide kept me in a constant whirl of emotions, ranging from the almost hypnotic captivity that Salisbury wove around me, to the wild grief that accompanies the reader once the book ended. I adored looking at the plot through Alva’s eyes - she is a fierce, unforgiving young woman who doesn’t shrink away from what needs to be done. Despite all of the trauma she has received, Alva will look whatever horror is snarling in her face, and she spits back at it (once she gains her composure). She is the kind of person I would want to have by my side when the town gets overrun with monsters. The other characters also are thrilling - Ren is an adorable young man who seems to hold Alva up with the moon and stars in his estimation of her, as we all should, and Gavan is a sweet bean of a teenager, who deserves everything his heart deserves.

The one thing that prevented me from giving Hold Back the Tide a full five stars is that the plot seemed to be different from what was promised. It is a welcome change, as the original idea that I had - that of a young woman escaping her murderous father and the perilous journey to freedom. Instead, we are treated to a novel about a young woman who learns that the past is not always what we remember it to be, and that the present is filled with monsters far more terrifying than the ones in our minds. It took me a few chapters to adjust my expectations, but once I did so, it was a wonderful experience.

When I finished reading Hold Back the Tide, several songs kept going in my head as I thought about the characters. I could almost see Alva when listening to Twister, from the musical Willow, a song about trying to distance yourself from an abusive/unwanted presence in your life. I could see Ren serenading Alva with the X Ambassadors song Renegades, as he asks her to let him run away with her. Even her father got a song - Into the Ocean by Blue October. The overall feel of the playlist is acoustic, but fast-paced when danger approaches. You can check out the full Hold Back the Tides playlist on my Spotify.

Are you still not sure about reading Hold Back the Tide? Then, alas, I guess I will need to tempt you with some comparisons. If you enjoy these forms of media:

  • Wilder Girls, Rory Power

  • Sawkill Girls, Claire Legrand

  • The Female of the Species, Mindy McGinnis

  • Stranger Things (tv show)

Then you will most definitely enjoy reading about Alva and her story.

The great thing about all of this is that you can purchase your own copy of Hold Back the Tide today! Be sure to stop by your local bookstore or to order online at these links: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Many thanks to Terminal Tours for allowing me to join the Hold Back the Tide book tour! You can check out the rest of the tour stops on their Tour Schedule webpage.

About the Author:


Melinda Salisbury was born in the 1980s in a landlocked city, before escaping to live by the sea. As a child, she genuinely thought Roald Dahl's Matilda was her biography. When she's not trying to unlock the hidden avenues of her mind, she's reading, writing, or traveling. She lives in the UK and can be found on Twitter as @MESalisbury, though be warned she tweets often.


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