This review was written in exchange for a copy of the novel through Netgalley. It also appears on Goodreads and Amazon. I reviewed this book pre-publication. It is set to be released on February 21, 2017.
The Mercy of the Tides is a character-driven modern psychological horror novel set in an alternate version of the 1980’s, where some magical realism exists, in the beach town of Riptide, Oregon. The story begins following a tragic car accident that takes the lives of two women, Melissa Finster and June Dobbs. The accident leaves their families and the entire town reeling in the wake of their deaths. This is only the beginning. Beneath the surface of the town’s grief and anger lies something much more sinister.
Sam and Trina Finster are siblings. They are close, as siblings go, both because Sam is protective of his deaf little sister and because he’s taking care of her after their mother died in the wreck. They grieve together and apart. Trina becomes more and more obsessed with the concept of nuclear warfare and the threat of the Cold War coming to fruition.
Nick Hayslip grieves silently for his married lover. Her death and the car wreck cause new dreams to surface from his time as a combat veteran of Vietnam. He doesn’t eat and he can’t sleep. As one of the town’s cops, he’s tasked with protecting the town. But, he seems to be the only one to see the new threat as it surfaces. His boss, Dave Dobbs, is the town Sheriff. He also lost his wife in the wreck. He’s grieving and lonely, trying to keep himself and the town together as things begin to go haywire.
This novel is paced slowly, almost excruciatingly. It is filled with rich detail and extensive character exploration so that I felt each and every pang of despair, guilt, grief, and fear. It’s a weird little novel but it’s gritty and deeply emotional, about the horrors just under the surface of the mundanity of everyday life.