The House Between Tides

This historical mystery (400 pages) was published in August of 2016 by Atria Books. The book takes you to the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. Melissa read The House Between Tides and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

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The House Between Tides

Sarah Maine

It’s 2010, and Hetty’s life is kind of a mess. She has a boyfriend who’s just a little too controlling, and she’s still reeling from the recent deaths of her parents and her grandmother.

When Hetty inherits a ruined estate called Muirland House in the Outer Hebrides, she flees London and her day-to-day worries to lose herself in a possible new future.

She plans to transform the crumbling mansion into a 5-star hotel. But then a skeleton is found buried under the floorboards in the conservatory. Who are these old bones? Is this evidence of murder?

The search to identify the remains takes Hetty deep into the isolated community of Muirland Island and her own family’s history. She learns more about her long-dead uncle Theo, a talented but troubled artist and his tender-hearted sister Emily. As she’s immersed in the traditions of the island, she learns more about Theo’s passionate young wife Beatrice, a suffragist and socialist in a time when neither was easy.

The story nimbly alternates between 1910 and 2010 timelines, drawing parallels between the modern characters and their ancestors — and demonstrating that social strife and heartbreak repeat through time, just like the cycles of the seasons.

The mansion, the dramatic landscape, and the raging weather of the island are as much characters as the people. This book has everything we want in a story set on a lonely estate: dark family secrets, passionate love that drives people to foolish acts, betrayal, loyalty, class wars, and the healing power of nature.

This is how he had described Muirlan Island to her. ‘And beyond there be dragons!’ he had said, his eyes glinting in the way she had grown to love. It was his refuge, he had said, a place of wild beauty, a special place, with endless stretches of bone-white sand, vast skies, and the sea — an ever-changing palette. — Sarah Maine

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