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Review: Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys (Innsmouth Legacy #1)

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Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys // VBC ReviewWinter Tide (The Innsmouth Legacy #1)
Ruthanna Emrys
Published: April 4, 2017 (Tor)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

Aphra is…not like the other humans around her. Oh, she can mostly pass for one, but it’s the telling little details that give her away as a monster. Not monster as in the slobbering, fanged hungry beast—but monster as different. Not totally human. And isn’t that how humans always see “other”? As monsters?

In this case, her people were rounded up and put into camps by the government. Eventually, living in the desert caught up with these people who were dependent on water, and they all died. Except Aphra and her brother. Now, she lives in San Francisco and works in a small bookstore, where she can keep her eyes open for texts relating to her people. Until the government comes calling and needs her help.

Ruthanna Emrys explains that Winter Tide was written because so many readers wanted more about Aphra after writing her novelette The Litany of Earth. Not having read that, I came to Winter Tide a newbie to both Emrys AND Aphra. However, at no time did I feel like I had missed out on some important piece. In fact, it wasn’t until after the story was over that I found out about the prior novelette. I would like to go back and read that, but it isn’t necessary to enjoy the current book.

The story is set in the United States but one that is both the same and different in very important ways. As discussed above, anyone “other” is still regarded suspiciously. WWI has been and gone, as has WWII, and now the Cold War with Russia is spiraling. But in this world, ancient creatures still exist, and magic can be found if one works hard enough at it. And in this story the true monsters are not the monsters at all.

The plot is well done, though it’s definitely not what you would call a barn burner. It’s considerate and thoughtful and interesting instead. The characters are also interesting—I found myself surprised in several instances with the character development. Aphra is a strong female lead, who has found herself in the unenviable position of being the last known female of her kind, as well as one who was traumatized by the government and ends up attempting to assist them in order to further her own knowledge. It’s a fine line to walk on the believability scale, but Emrys does a good job on that tightrope.

Overall, I enjoyed the storytelling in Winter Tide, and I liked the thoughtful commentary embedded within the story. After all, what truly makes a monster? How we appear to the public at large? Or how we act to those we view as outsiders?

Sexual content: none

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