My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An atmospheric debut novel about a woman who discovers the century-old remains of a murder victim on her family’s Scottish estate, plunging her into an investigation of its mysterious former occupants.
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.
The House Between Tides title, description, and cover captured my imagination. The discovery of a hidden body that's been buried for decades is not the start Hetty had counted on when she arrives at the old house she has inherited. And, her restoration plan seems to fall to pieces too. However, she can't help being fascinated by whom the body could be and bit by bit will she discover deep dark buried secrets...
The book's story takes place both during 1910 and 2010 and I found both time frames fascinating to read about. Sarah Maine has written a captivating tale about forbidden love, regrets and how memories can consume one's life. Some secrets are perhaps not that surprising, but all and all was this book quite intriguing. The only drawback was that now and then did I feel a bit impatient with the story, not bored, I just wanted the characters to get some things to grip, like Hetty telling Giles off or Beatrice realizing why Theo was so obsessed with Cameron (which was pretty obvious why). I loved the books scenery. I could really picture the island and its wildlife.
But, the ending was perfect, tragic, but at the same time uplifting and I'm looking forward to reading more from Sarah Maine in the future.