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After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.

The government that stole Aphra's life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.

Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.

366 pages, Hardcover

First published April 4, 2017

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Ruthanna Emrys

21 books443 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 735 reviews
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,004 reviews10.6k followers
August 23, 2017
Aphra and Caleb Marsh, survivors of the government's raid on Innsmouth in 1928 and the internment camp that followed, head to the east coast to find the lost books of their people. Will Miskatonic University give up its secrets? And what of the rumors of Russians researching body-swapping magic?

After reading Litany of the Earth in Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis, I was intrigued by Ruthanna Emrys' tale of the plight of the survivors of the government's raid on Innsmouth and wanted more. Tor turned me down for an ARC of this but good old Richard came through.

The Marsh siblings, the last known People of the Water, or Deep Ones, left on land, head east to reclaim their birthright, the accumulated knowledge once housed in the homes and libraries of Innsmouth. With a couple friends in tow, and a couple more new friends met on the way, they rediscover their lost heritage and cross paths with magic most fowl.

I love what Ruthanna Emrys has built atop the foundation that HP Lovecraft laid a long time ago. Her bricks aren't mortared with hate, however. By mirroring the experiences of the Innsmouth survivors and the interned Japanese Americans in World War II, she humanizes the Deep Ones quite a bit and gives a much greater depth to their culture. The book has a message of tolerance throughout, something the world could use more of in this day and age.

The relationship between Aphra and her students, the confluence, drive the story, making it much more nuanced than I thought it would be going in. You wouldn't think a book that's primarily people researching magic would be this gripping. I love the magic system and the way Emrys wove Lovecraftian concepts with her own ideas.

There's not a lot I didn't find fascinating about this book. If I had to pick one gripe, it would be that there wasn't a big showdown at the end, though the end was pretty satisfying and felt truer to the rest of the book than a monster smackdown would have.

As I've said many times before, I like the concepts HPL created better than works by Old Howie himself. Ruthanna Emrys uses those concepts better than most. Four out of five stars.
Profile Image for carol..
1,565 reviews8,205 followers
January 21, 2019
Unexpected. I haven't tried Lovecraft for years, perhaps decades, so this lingered on my TBR, due to numerous reviews and blurbs mentioning how it turns Lovecroft storytelling sideways. But a female lead, magic, water, and the almost ringing endorsement of book-twin Mimi had me bumping it up.

I found it enjoyable, perhaps because I never could truly predict where it was going, the hallmark of a book I could see owning. What it reminds me of is quiet, the muffled mist-soaked morning beauty by a lake and following a winding path by the water's edge. Easy to put down, when I needed to, it was also very easy to pick up again, and oddly captivating for a story that was not a thriller.

"My thoughts coalesced: listening to myself, I learned what I believed."

~brief summary for those with terrible memories~

Aphra Marsh and brother Caleb are the only survivors of massacre and forced evacuation at Innsmouth many years ago. They survived an internment camp through the help of the community there, including later Japanese arrivals who adopted them. Now Aphra is living in San Francisco with the Katos and working at a bookstore owned by her friend and acolyte, Charlie. In January, 1949, an FBI agent, Ron Spector, comes calling, looking for Aphra's expertise. He wants her help reading through the Innsmouth collection at the Miskatonic library, to see if it has information on a body-switching technique. The FBI is afraid a Russian agent has studied there. Caleb has been camping at the library's doorstep for years, but has been forbidden access. Aphra decides to accept, out of concern that the Russians might use the technique to set off bombs, and as an opportunity to explore her own heritage. She stipulates that Caleb and Charlie will be included. Once there, they discover a number of other people have an interest in the special collection.

Emrys' writing is pleasantly sophisticated, easily up to the task of building a world of uncertain atmosphere: "My subconscious had marked her as a predator from the first--she had a strength and viciousness almost certainly necessary to survive Miskatonic's academic and political grottos." There's something slightly period about it in word choice and structure that helps it feel like it was written more mid-century and lends solidity to Aphra's characterization.

Representation and tolerance are strengths of this book. The story has ongoing themes about family, both genetic and chosen, as well as identity/racial history, and tolerance. There's a significant number of sassy and self-directed female characters, and a lovely assortment of developing friendships, both same-sex and male-female. A couple of romantic pairings that transcend period expectations are a side note to the main story.

Narration is first person, from Aphra's perspective. Characterization is story-telling strength, here, and it's nice to see the way the characters gradually grow and come to trust each other. Audrey, a woman from a nearby women's college, provides a lot of the verbal chutzpah and ended up being a character I quite liked:

"Trumball turned her gaze on Audrey, frowning. 'You appear perfectly sane.'
Audrey blinked. If she felt any fear or repugnance, she kept it well hidden. 'Do people often go mad at the sight of you? That seems like it would be awkward.'"

Concerns: first, I felt the parallels between the Innsmouth people and the Japanese was not at all subtle. This is compounded by an almost off-hand reference about the creation of Israel creating greater mistrust of Jewish Americans. Maybe this is because I am old, and know something of history, but I wondered why the author chose to be so forceful with her messaging. Second, and this is almost always a problem with me and fictional spiritualism, is the mysticism. I actually thought the spiritual aspects were done exceedingly well at first, but it fell apart quite badly during the ultimate engagement. This could also correspond with Mimi's assessment that this section went on too long.

Third, and note that I only think this in retrospect, is that everybody but Trumbull felt young. Aphra felt painfully naive for someone who survived years in a camp.  I don't feel as irritable about the characterizations as I did with Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series--I think this is because Aphra isn't actually old yet--but her "elders" also felt and seemed young. What an impetuous grandfather she has.

 I would recommend reading it if it sounds appealing, even if you are unfamiliar with Lovecraft or dislike his writing. It was a quietly interesting, captivating book that I could read again.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,099 followers
February 9, 2017
It's impossible to think that most of you will have to wait until April to read this, and I say that for one reason: It's amazing! Take the Cthulhu mythos, take it seriously, have your sympathetic main character be a Deep One, and make us care for her family's plight.

What's more, add a more than liberal dose of book-loving research that include Enochian and all the best beloved titles from HPL, perhaps turn it into a quest to build or re-build your family's lost collection, and of course, butting your head against the Miskatonic University.

And of course, that's just a start. I loved learning about the Human races of of Air, Water, and Earth, about the great danger that the Outsiders represented.

This novel paints all of the happenings in HPL's works in an all new light, defines and redefines all the happenings on a much more solid framework of the universe. There's much less racism and fanaticism and sexism, for one. There's a LOT of interesting magic, however. And linking the plight of the Japanese Internment Camps with the two surviving children of the race of the Deep Ones was a brilliant stroke. Getting us involved with the government never felt more squishy, especially when the main action is set in the dawn of the McCarthy era.

I can't rave about this book enough. It may be intended for readers who love magical realism, historical novels, HPL, awe-inspiring fantasy, or anyone with a taste for vengeance against those who would steal your books, but honestly? I think it works on a universal scale of awesome.

And because most of you can't get your hands on it yet? Well... I pity you. Sincerely. Just keep your eyes open for it in April and weep with joy and wonder as you read. :)

Thanks goes to Netgalley for the ARC!
Profile Image for Nicole.
749 reviews1,933 followers
June 2, 2021
actual rating: 2.5 stars

If you're not familiar with Aphra's story, you should read Litany of Earth novella (read it here). I enjoyed this short story way more than Winer Tide. I really liked it but this book was so slow. I read it almost directly after starting this book. I expected Winter Tide to be as enjoyable but sadly, it wasn't.

Even though this book didn't meet my expectations, it certainly made me curious enough to check out Lovecraft work in the future. I had no idea it held such influence before starting this book. The only knowledge about this topic was Cthulhu, and only by name. My friend even told me that the Drowned God (and the Greyjoys’ religion in general) in ASOIAF is inspired by H. P. Lovecraft work so naturally, I'll definitely read some of his books.
I think, no, I know that a person with more experience in this field, would've liked this book more since he'd understand all the references. I didn't know what was Ruthanna Emrys' creations and what wasn't and we had lots of new words. So "it's me not you" kind of book.

While I appreciated the descriptions of the world and traditions, it was a bit too much because it made the book slow-paced. The characters were likable enough. Their character development was obvious by the end of the book. But I still couldn't relate to any of them or even get attached to them.

I'd recommend this book for the fans of Lovecraft world but if it's your first try, like me, you might want to learn more about his work to fully enjoy Winter Tide.

arc provided via netgalley
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,970 reviews1,983 followers
December 20, 2017
Rating: 4.5* of five

I need some more bandwidth to become available prior to reviewing this novel. Watch this space. And don't forget to read my review of The Litany of Earth, the link to the Tor.com free read is in it.

The Publisher Says: After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. Government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.

The government that stole Aphra's life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.

Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.


My Review: I began this book hoping it would be at least as good as THE LITANY OF EARTH (link above) and would expand my sense of the reality of Miskatonic University. I had enough contact with the Cthulhu Mythos to have developed a deep desire to become an alumnus of Miskatonic. It is not to be, of course, Arkham being fictional as well as in coastal Massachusetts *shiver*, but it gives you a sense of how real this mythos seems to me. Current titles like Lovecraft Country and Carter & Lovecraft have passed before my approving gaze, deepening my appreciation for the talent, if not the person, of racist sexist nativist H.P. Lovecraft. There is something in the Elder Gods that answers a need in people, since there are so very many people using the Mythos today to explore the dystopia in which we live.

Author Emrys's particular flash of genius is to make the Mythos spread over time, writing an historical novel set in 1948 from the standpoint of a World War II-to-Cold-War world where Innsmouth and the Water People were interned before the Japanese were. It's brilliant. The government needed only to turn their bureaucratic gaze a few inches to get a ready-made solution to the "Nisei Threat." I was completely convinced by this. I can think of nothing to prevent this from being true...except it isn't.

Feels to me like it should be. Families like the Marshes, longtime residents of Innsmouth and leaders among the Water People who make up most of Innsmouth's population, are wrenched from the spawning grounds (being humans although amphibious, they need to breed on terra firma before they can undergo final metamorphosis and go back to the sea) and sent to desert camps. Most died in the violence of the round-up, or in the deserts, and now only Aphra Marsh of San Francisco and her brother Caleb of Arkham, Massachusetts, are left. The sole full-blooded Water People who can breed are, in returning to Innsmouth to assist the government that committed genocide against their kind, coming to grips with what it means to be the future not simply to have a future.

As we submerge deeper and deeper into the cold, dark, high-pressure depths of human hatred of otherness and intolerance of difference, WINTER TIDE feels more and more like a howl from the edge of the pack: A better trail is over here! Come this way, accept and embrace the not-usual, accept and embrace the viewpoint of the outsider, and you'll see the whole picture much more clearly. The threats are real. They simply aren't where you're looking for them.

How perfect a co-opting of the Cthulhu Mythos that is. In keeping with the co-opting we, the sane and normal, need to do with the lunatic fringe's ideological excesses. Making the bad spirits better is, as the titanic struggles Aphra and her rag-tag family of choice endure and prevail over, extremely hard. But the will to do it, the willingness to suffer the literal and psychic pains and amputations required by it, exist in us. We need to need the end results as much as Aphra and her family, as well as her blood family, need the results of their internecine war.

Aphra Marsh for President.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,275 reviews228 followers
April 14, 2017
This is not what I expected. From the description I was thinking a cold war spy romp with a native of Innsmouth using her skills as a US agent. It's nothing like that.

Aphra Marsh and her brother Caleb are the only survivors of the US government's raid on Innsmouth in 1928 due to the report of the main character of The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The government had interned the Innsmouth people in a desert camp; a particularly horrible fate for amphibious humans. But then in 1942 the government had more internees, over 100,000 American Japanese. When they were released in 1945 Aphra and Caleb left with them, now almost adopted by a Japanese family, the Kotos.

Aphra had been approached by a US government agent to help deal with a cult of people who based their beliefs on those of the Innsmouth residents in the novelette The Litany of Earth, but this book is set after those events. The same agent, Ron Spektor, approaches Aphra again in San Francisco where she has formed a friendship with a bookseller that she is teaching magic to, Charlie Day. This time it's to investigate rumors that the Russians have acquired the forbidden body-swapping magic of the ancient Yith race. A spy with the ability to swap bodies would be impossible to stop.

So Aphra, Charlie, Ron and Aphra's adopted sister Nancy Koto ("Neko") go to Miskatonic University which is near ruined Innsmouth and has all the books the government raided from the town. From there Aphra encounters allies, enemies and family.

You should be familiar with some elements of Lovecraft's stories before reading this book, and particularly the Shadows over Innsmouth, which this book is an almost direct sequel to. Of lesser importance (as all the events in them are explained) are "The Shadow Out of Time" and "The Thing on the Doorstep".

What this book actually turns out to be is further healing for Aphra Marsh. She's already had two families, the one she was born into and tragically lost, and the one that she was invited into, the Kotos. In the situation she finds herself in here, she finds herself building a whole new family, one of her choosing, but no less devoted for that. Aphra will do anything for the people she considers family, no matter how strange they might be.

And that's a wonderful message for any book, and a beautiful reversal of the sourness and misanthropy of Lovecraft himself.
Profile Image for Liz.
31 reviews5 followers
July 7, 2017
The blurb doesn't give a very accurate account of what actually happens in the book. There's no real spy story, the fact that it takes place in the late 40s is barely relevant, and it's way more interested in the magic, meditation, and rituals that the main character Aphra (who really doesn't have much in the way of personality) does as religious practice that she seems both very protective of but also totally cool with bringing total strangers in to.

I think more than third of the book is spent in a library looking at books that have nothing to do with why the FBI guy asked Aphra for her help. Another third is meditation.

I think this book would be less frustrating for me if it HADN'T been incorporating stuff from the Lovecraft Mythos. Having read "Shadow Over Innsmouth," it was hard to reconcile the iconic insular town of people who sacrificed their community to the Deep Ones to ensure their personal survival and comfort with the town Aphra describes. The elder things like Dagon and Shub'Niggurath get name checked like they're the Roman pantheon rather than creatures so indifferent to life on this planet that human interaction with them leads inevitably to madness. Innsmouth heritage could be swapped out for something of the author's own invention with nothing lost. The story just needed something to make Aphra an "other," so why use Innsmouth?

I don't know how to describe the Innsmouth people of "Winter Tide" other than they have been Deeply Wronged. It felt almost like that trope of the "noble savage" rolled up with an attempt to represent all marginalized, persecuted, and nearly wiped out groups that have ever been. The Innsmouth of Aphra's memory has absolutely nothing in common with the one from Lovecraft's original story. She makes it sound like a perfect, bucolic haven for a beatific community who want only to practice their religion in peace while living in relative harmony with others and never giving anyone a moment's worry. And there's nothing to indicate Aphra is anything other than a perfectly reliable narrator. She's almost always right about other things in the story, so why wouldn't the reader believe her version of Innsmouth to be the absolute truth?

That's boring. There's no real conflict in the book as a whole (especially not for the reader) because it's always so clear who is right and who is wrong. Aphra and her brother are right and good, and anyone not affirming them is wrong and bad. Even when it's a subtle bad like mistrust ("You guys know magic and maybe that can be used as a weapon"), the person who isn't 100% behind Aphra is the antagonist.

Aside from the weird "why bother?" use of the Lovecraft Mythos, the story also had some serious pacing issues, a Japanese American character who goes by "Neko," and *waaaay* too many characters who don't seem to really....do anything. No one really does anything until around the end of the book, and even then it's a pretty small, contained plot.

Even if the expectations brought on by the blurb hadn't been let down, the boring, unchallenging version of the Innsmouth legacy would have done it. I might try something else by this author, but I don't feel the need to hear more about Aphra or the "Mayberry" version of Innsmouth.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 150 books37.5k followers
December 1, 2018

After a couple of tries at Lovecraft when I was young, I bounced so hard I never wanted to try him again. Horror, racism and hate, a trifecta of Thoroughly Awful, imo.

But this past October, when I was in Montreal at a con called Scintillation, I got to hear the author speak. I found her so interesting and intelligent that I went to look her up, found out she had published a book . . . but it dealt with Lovecraft. I mentioned this to someone, who said, “Don’t make assumptions. Read it. I promise, you’ll like it.”

She was right.

This book is not Lovecraft pastiche. Nor is it touting his problematical views. Instead, it is a literary conversation with Lovecraft’s ideas, which (despite people like me) speak to others to the extent of still being read and talked about.

First of all, this is not a story about humans being terrorized by monsters. Instead, it’s written from the POV of a ‘monster’, who ends up imprisoned by humans: Aphra and her brother end up in one of the Japanese Internment Camps, when the McCarthy witch hunts were just getting started. This is a brilliant switcheroo about monsters, backed up with plenty of magic with flashes of the numinous.

Aphra is aware of the complexity of the cosmos and the awe-inspiring (and awful) depth of time. She's also perceptive about the complexity of living beings of all types, including herself: as she says, "We're all monsters, or related to monsters, one way or another."

I’m certain that I missed plenty of references, echoes, and undertones engaging more closely with Lovecraft’s fiction and ideas, not having read his work. I felt that was okay. This novel is good enough to take purely on its own merits. It’s sensitive, human and humane, and I’m so glad that I read it.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,155 reviews310 followers
June 9, 2017
4.5 stars

A very impressive and impeccably written debut novel.

The story is rooted in Lovecraftian mythos, but goes in new and unexpected places. The so-called monsters of Innsmouth are given the chance to show that they are people, with families and friends, who frighten primarily by being different. They possess power and magic, but no more inherent desire to harm than any of the other people of the Earth, even as they are subjected to continued persecution and surveillance.

The writing is wonderful, and gives the book the feel of literary fiction. While the pace is steady and the plotting meticulous, there is a real focus on the characters and their interactions with each other, which gives the whole story a very personal feel.

This book stands nicely on its own, but also provides a fertile start for further books. I would happily read anything else Emrys comes up with.
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books748 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
February 19, 2018
DNF @30%

It's taken me 8 days to read 113 pages. I don't care about any of the characters, or their quest. It started with a beautiful eeriness. I loved the setting and was hoping for a lot of tie in to socio-political currents as well as Cthulhu horror. I think they'd go so well together. And yet.

The dialogue didn't make sense, there were continuity errors everywhere, and the second I'd find something cool to hope for, it was crushed in a mountain of over-explanation and no emotional buy in or added mystery. And then literal pages of people just reading silently.

I've got 3 library books out and 2 others I'm in the middle of. I can't waste more time on a book that I feel so little about.
Profile Image for Mimi.
698 reviews197 followers
May 3, 2018
Really good. Like SO GOOD... until the end where it got convoluted and the ending got unnecessarily long. Certain sub-plots that needed wrapping up went on for too long which caused the writing to lose some of the initial momentum from the early parts of the book, but right up until then, I loved this book. It was solid hit and came as a total surprise to me because I'm not a fan of Lovecraft or Lovecraftian things.

Ruthanna Emrys is an incredible writer and she has created something very special here. I cannot wait to see what she has in store for the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Ivan.
434 reviews284 followers
August 27, 2019
What if Lovecraft actually had writing skills not just great imagination? Well luckily we don't have to wonder as there are several authors who use Lovecraft's fascinating mythology. Ruthanna Emrys does tribute to his work but also deconstructs it.
Here some of the Lovecraft's most famous monsters, the deep ones, are humanized and sympathetic while actions of humans (We are also human just sub-specie Aphra, main protagonist would have corrected me) are are those that are repulsive. Instead of horror atmosphere oozes emotion.This book also takes poke at Lovecraft's racism and bigotry with diverse set of characters. I can see why that can bother some (the former part, I doubt anyone has problem with latter) as Winter tide tries to re-imagine instead recapture spirit of his work.

Rating it wasn't easy. At first I though this will be sure 5 stars read than as this progressed my preliminary grade dropped to 3 stars and at the end I'm settling for 4. 3.8 stars to be precise.

I read short story prequel first, which was one of better short stories I read. Book starts with same quality of writing but very slow pace of story and too descriptive writing make this book tedious at time. Luckily good writing prevails.Characters could use some more development but when all said and done this was enjoyable read with flashes of great here and there.
Profile Image for Anne.
Author 6 books31 followers
March 30, 2017
Should we be surprised to read that the denizens of Innsmouth and Y'ha-nthlei don't think of themselves as hideous hybrids of fish and frog and man? Or that they call themselves Chyrlid Ajha, People of the Water, rather than the perhaps overly poetic Deep Ones? Or that to them the name Devil Reef just doesn't cut it? They say Union Reef -- they're not devils, after all, and that jagged upthrust of rock is the meeting place between earth and ocean, the land-bound spawning grounds and the promise of future glory that is their undersea outpost off Massachusetts.

No. No, we shouldn't be surprised at all. As natural as it may be for us land-based readers to enjoy a good scare at their expense, the People of the Water are our first cousins, separated from us by a mere tick or two of cosmic time, along with those other first cousins, the People of the Rock, aka the Mad Ones under the Earth. So it is written in the Archives of the Yith, who mentally span all time and space, and so says Aphra Marsh, born of Innsmouth, nearly martyred in the desert, now returned to Arkham to recover her family's stolen legacy.

That Aphra Marsh? Yes, that Aphra Marsh, whom we first met in "The Litany of the Earth". If you've yet to read this novelette, link to it and enjoy. Then, if you love "Litany" as much as I and many other readers have, you're in for an extended feast in Ruthanna Emrys's first novel, Winter Tide.

Those familiar with H. P. Lovecraft's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", will remember that its narrator rallied the U. S. government to raid that town and scour it of its blasphemous fish-frog inhabitants, worshippers of unthinkable gods, defilers of our pristine human gene pool, breeders of the dread shoggoth! Emrys doesn't allow the scouring to be passed over in a sentence or two. She makes the effectual annihilation of the Deep One's spawning population the germ of her story and novel, following the captured Innsmouthers into their desert internment camp. The desert -- and certain government experiments -- prove deadly to all but Aphra and her brother Caleb, who are barely holding on more than ten years later, when the Japanese internees arrive. Mama Rei Koto and her children are their salvation, and the first branching of Aphra's new family, which she, natural gardener of connections, continues to expand through Winter Tide.

The girl can't help it. She's already won over San Francisco bookseller Charlie Day, her official employer and fellow student of magic; also Ron Spector, the FBI agent who coerced her into helping the Bureau root out cultists in "Litany." Spector's back in Winter Tide., again looking for help but asking nicely this time, with genuine respect. The Cold War's on, and the Russians may be hot on the trail of very dangerous magic indeed: the ability to project one's mind into another's body. Talk about potential super-spies and super-saboteurs!

To Arkham and Miskatonic University, Aphra goes. Not only does she want to keep mind-switching techniques from the Russians (and everyone else) but brother Caleb's already there, trying to get access to Innsmouth's stolen libraries and artifacts. Soon Aphra takes on another magical student, Audrey Winslow, and spars with a visiting Yith scholar, who happens to have "borrowed" the body of Catherine Trumbull, Miskatonic's rare female professor. FBI agents less sympathetic than Spector appear to complicate matters. And because that's not enough trouble for Aphra, she finally reunites with her underwater family, a joyful occasion, but do they expect a lot from her and Caleb, the Deep Ones' sole land survivors? Of course they do -- what's family for?

Emrys's take on Lovecraft Country retains vital canon features while making the milieu her own, with such fresh piquant details as the post-WWII urban renewal in Innsmouth and the best way to scale the Miskatonic wall after curfew. By milieu, I mean geography and atmospherics and cosmology all three. But her moral outlook is keenly different from Lovecraft's, as it would have to be given we remain firmly and skillfully in Aphra's point of view. For her, people of the air were the monsters, people of the water the wronged ones, left homeless and adrift.

But Aphra's no mere victim or avenger archetype. As an Aeonist, follower of the Great Old Ones and Outer Gods, she's increasingly aware of the complexity of the cosmos and the awful/awesome depth of time. As an acute observer, she's increasingly aware of the complexity of individuals, including herself. At one point she muses, "We're all monsters, or related to monsters, one way or another." One definition of "monster" is a thing or person that deviates from the norm. If that's so, then Aphra could add, "Conversely, we're all good guys, or related to good guys, one way or another." And for her, that includes people of the air, and the water, and the rock, and even the near-godly Yith, who seek to preserve the tragic ephemera of existence through memory and highly advanced library science.

With its focus on character and the tender growth of character bonds into deep strong interlocking roots, this is a book to savor slowly, and to ponder. The writing itself is tender without sentimentality and deep without obscurity. One of my favorite passages beautifully captures Aphra's outlook, somber yet somehow hopeful:

"It is written in the Archives that, once upon a time, the gods looked out on a universe barren and unthinking save for themselves. And they tested and experimented until they sparked matter into a form that might, one day, be capable of thought. And Shub-Nigaroth, mother of fear, looked on the first life and said: it will fail, but for now it is good."

Earlier in the book Aphra has puzzled over the goddess's cognomen. Was Shub-Nigaroth mother of fear because She spawned horrors? Too simple and simplistic an answer. Aphra's mother has told her Shub-Nigaroth mothered fear because She mothered children, and children are terrifying. Young Aphra took this as a joke. Older Aphra begins to understand: When you love anyone, you risk the pain of loss, and the closer the bond, the greater the pain.

Yet worse than the risk of love would be the sort of self-isolation figured forth in Aphra's dreams as an endless walk along an empty beach, alone between mountain-high dunes and waveless sea. That would be a life not only miserable but somehow transgressive.

How Aphra finds the courage to rebuild her community is the adventure of this book, and one that only begins here, may the Outer Gods be thanked!
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews193 followers
June 22, 2018
More like 3.5 stars.
An intriguing and beautifully composed reversal of the Lovecraftian mythos, if a little slow moving.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,764 reviews205 followers
July 18, 2017
Beautifully written story, picking up from Lovecraft's The Shadow of Innsmouth, but with a much more relatable and sympathetic protagonist, Aphra Marsh. Aphra's roped into helping Ron Spector (both characters are introduced, along with Charlie Day, in Emrys' The Litany of Earth) with another investigation into Innsmouth-infused weirdness. They all end up in New England, posing as Spector's research assistants so they can gain access to the Innsmouth families' books, which are stored at Miskatonic University in Arkham (one of Lovecraft's fictional towns).

The characters spend a lot of time in libraries, concerned about their books, and wondering how to repossess their books. And there is a time spent explaining some of the Deep Ones' rituals and myths, which is good since I know next to nothing about H.P.'s mythos.

Though this book seems at first like it should be a mystery with horror themes, it's actually a sensitive and thoughtful story of recovery, and the way Aphra begins rebuilding her family and healing the damage in her psyche from her many years of incarceration. The Kotos, Japanese Americans Aphra spent many years with in the internment camp, form the basis of this new family, which expands in strange and wonderful ways during the investigation.
Profile Image for Emily.
297 reviews1,549 followers
April 8, 2019
GORGEOUS. I can't wait to pick up the sequel!

So, H.P. Lovecraft. A behemoth of a cultural figure in the world of sci-fi and horror. BUT... The big But. His legacy is... Not great? As in, he was a huge racist and a xenophobe. So how do we contend with the cultural ubiquity of Lovecraft's work, AND his bigotry?

Enter Ruthanna Emrys, and Winter Tide. This book takes elements of Lovecraftian mythos--with particular focus to The Shadow Over Innsmouth--and turns them on their head. I can't help but think of The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, which similarly makes deliberate use of Lovecraft's work to deconstruct the inherent racism of the Lovecraftian universe (and by extension, that of society at large).

Winter Tide brings together various figures from Cthulhu Mythos, centered around a Deep One hybrid, Aphra. We follow Aphra as she is brought in by the FBI during the Cold War to uncover a possible Russian plot to use weaponized magic.

Emrys takes Lovecraft's mythological threat to white Anglo-Saxon hegemony--Aphra and her family and community--and then centers the story on those people. Emrys flips the narrative. She recognizes that Lovecrafts horrific humanoid creatures were often just stand-ins for the people he hated and feared--people of color, immigrant communities, etc.

This is a story about those who have been labeled monsters. We see this in obvious ways, with Aphra and her family. We also see this in the extended cast of characters: a gay Jewish man, a black woman, the Japanese family that Aphra meets at an internment camp and eventually becomes a part of. Emrys draws parallels between the bigotry of Lovecraft's works and the bigotry of so much of American history.

The writing feels like looking down at a deep pool of water--deceptively calm, belying the vastness of unseen depths. It cradles you, carries you along, makes you want to immerse yourself.

Do you need to know Lovecraft to understand this book? No, but it certainly helps. A quick Wikipedia read will probably do the trick, if you don't want to dig into Lovecraft's work first.

I absolutely loved this.
Profile Image for Malum.
2,286 reviews131 followers
August 17, 2018
I have read almost 400 books so far this year, and this was by far the most boring of the bunch. I wanted to quit this book so badly, but I marched on (with a bit of skimming...).

Forget waterboarding, just make prisoners read this book and they will spill all of their secrets by page 100. This book almost makes me wish books were never invented. This book makes me want to dig up Lovecraft's nasty corpse and apologize in person. This is the worst thing to happen to Lovecraft since intestinal cancer.


Let's see some of the reasons why I hate this book so much (just some, because we don't have all day):

Imagine someone writing you an almost 400 page letter on how their day was. Not only that, they write in the most banal, toneless, exposition-laden way imaginable. Also, nothing interesting happened during their day. That is what this book feels like. How does someone make mythos monsters, magic, and cultists boring? Emrys managed to do just that.

The writing style feels like Emrys was falling asleep writing it as much as I was reading it.

No one has any real personality. The characters are almost interchangeable.

Humanizing mythos monsters and cultists completely sucks the fun out of mythos fiction. I admire the effort to be different, but it just doesn't work for me. I have read a bit of Cthulhusattva, and many of the stories in there do the whole "mythos from the bad guys' point of view" much better (I haven't read Emrys' story in that collection, though).

What is this book supposed to be? It's not a spy story (although it tries to shoehorn some spy nonsense in there). It's not horror (there is nothing scary or horrific in here at all). I just don't know what this novel is trying to be besides a pain in my ass.

In the afterword, Emrys says she wasn't going to write this book, but fans just kept asking for it over and over. I hope all of those people get a stone in their shoe and spill a milkshake down their shirt.
Profile Image for Beth.
976 reviews118 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
December 7, 2022
It isn't often that I feel true regret when deciding to DNF a book. My friends carol. and Mimi liked Winter Tide a lot. Others' opinions about books don't affect me all that strongly once I get around to actually reading them, but their both being midwesterners who enjoyed this wintry tale counted for something as I went into it, at least.

I very much enjoyed the cast of outsider characters, each struggling with contemporary-to-1947 U.S. society in their own ways, each damaged by it and finding some solace in each other's company. I thought I might be fine just soaking in the character aspects of the story for 350 pages.

What actually happened was that there were too many pages focusing on stuff I couldn't care less about. The main plot with the USSR potentially using magical body possession to infiltrate the U.S.: boring. Main character Aphra's new student in magic and the scenes showing her learning: boring. Pages and pages of the characters sitting around at tables reading: boring. They always felt like tedious and frequent interruptions to an otherwise involving conversation.

When I DNF a book, it's usually because it repulsed me in some way, and that was definitely not the case here. Even a slight recalibration of the narrative elements might have made this a favorite--as is, sadly, it's another one for the used bookstore box.
Profile Image for YouKneeK.
658 reviews80 followers
January 30, 2022
This was another one of my series-sampling audio listens, to see if I might want to pursue it in print someday.

Audio Narration
The narrator is Gabra Zackman. Although I have some complaints, she wasn’t unpleasant to listen to and for the most part her narration worked for me. Her delivery had a slightly flat tone, which I thought kind of fit well, but I found it a little jarring with some of the character dialogue. I also had some trouble distinguishing between some of her character voices, but there were quite a lot of regularly-seen characters and the text mostly made it clear who was speaking, so it wasn’t a big problem. Probably my biggest issue was that I sometimes couldn’t tell the difference between the main character speaking out loud or thinking in her head.

Although I didn’t realize it while listening to the story, this is based on Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. I learned this at the end of the book in the author’s notes. I’m Cthulhu Clueless, so all of that went over my head, but I never felt lost nor like I was missing out on important back story, so the author did a good job providing enough information for readers like me to appreciate it. I don’t know if that means that somebody who is familiar with it might get bored by too much information they already knew.

In this book there are three types of humans. “People of the Air” are regular humans like you and me. Well, like me anyway. I don’t know what you are. There are also “People of the Rock”, known as the “mad ones”. They are supposedly no longer around, but I know a lot of people I suspect may be related to them. The main character, Aphra, is one of the “People of the Water”, a longer-lived species that grows up living on land but whose bodies eventually transform and then they live deep in the ocean. Due to lies told about them, most of the people of the water who had still been living on land were killed, or died in concentration camps. Aphra and her younger brother are the only ones left. They’re asked by government agents to help them investigate rumors that a Russian spy has learned the magical art of body swapping. Since this is of some concern to them, and it also means they’ll be given access to some of their old and treasured books which were stolen from them, they agree to help.

The story has a very slow pace. It moderately held my interest, but I got exasperated at how little actual effort the characters put into their supposed objective. I mean, I get that Aphra and Caleb had ulterior motives and were interested in all their books, but their research methods, including that of the people who were more invested in the mission, seemed inefficient and haphazard. That part of the plot never really went anywhere, actually. Maybe it does in a sequel. I felt like the story had potential, and it had interesting moments, but I was never sucked into it.

I kind of liked the characters, they were mostly interesting, but I never got super attached to any of them either. There were quite a lot of them, but they were mostly distinct enough that I was able to keep track of who was who. What I did have trouble with, on the other hand, was keeping track of who was supposed to be in the current scene. It seemed like people kept cropping up who I hadn’t realized were there, or I just found myself wondering who was there in the first place. I’m not sure if this was because I have more trouble keeping track of the details when listening to an audiobook, or if things were unclear with the writing.

This will be a “probably not” for following up on the series in print. I liked it ok, but I think not enough to read more books in the setting. Someday I should probably read some Lovecraft stuff though so I can better appreciate its presence in modern literature.
Profile Image for wishforagiraffe.
222 reviews49 followers
February 5, 2018
I know nothing really about H. P. Lovecraft and his mythos, aside from what's probably general knowledge - Cthulhu, racism, etc. So I went into this pretty unprepared, and came out with my mind basically blown.

Set after the end of WWII, it's all about people finding their place in a world that is very different from before the war. Some of that is fantastical, but mostly it's a purely human experience. I loved Aphra, her willingness to be open to new ideas and new people, and her growth as a person. I also really admired her attitude toward religion and spirituality.

The magic is deep and weird and also strangely approachable, which was fantastic. It was a very believable historical fantasy, for me. I'm absolutely looking forward to more books in the series.

Great for folks who want to spin old stories upside down, people who are looking for diverse casts of characters (especially set in the 1950s, omg), and those who like Lovecraft's work but have a problem with the dude's antiquated views.
Profile Image for Chris Berko.
471 reviews117 followers
January 11, 2019
This was a very cool and for me an unpredictable read, that was also somewhat slow in parts. I'm not a big Lovecraft fan and I know hardly anything about anything that has to do with Cthulhu mythos but the magic and the mystery and the underlying investigation was enough to keep me entertained as well as minimally educated as to what it all means. I will most likely continue this series as the characters were all real for me and I do want to know what happens to them moving forward. I'm glad I read this and would recommend it to people even not well versed in HP's stuff.
Profile Image for Holly (The GrimDragon).
1,046 reviews235 followers
January 19, 2020
"It is written in the Archives that, once upon a time, the gods looked out on a universe barren and unthinking save for themselves. And they tested and experimented until they sparked matter into a form that might, one day, be capable of thought. And Shub-Nigaroth, mother of fear, looked on the first life and said: it will fail, but for now it is good."

Winter Tide is the debut novel from Ruthanna Emrys and the first installment in the Innsmouth Legacy series. Enjoyably familiar Lovecraft elements with writing uniquely Emrys own, flipping the typical Mythos on its head.

Aphra and Caleb Marsh are the only children that have survived the Deep One internment camps, a horrific act by the government where Aphra and her people were rounded up and imprisoned in a desert, far from their beloved sea where they lived. Many were subjected to torture and medical experiments.

The Marsh siblings are eventually joined in the concentration camp by Japanese-American citizens who have also been locked up during World War II. One of the families take Aphra and Caleb under their wing and treat them as their own. At the end of the war, they are inadvertently released along with the other families.

Now living in San Francisco with her adoptive family, Aphra works at a bookstore owned by her friend, Charlie Day (CHARLIE DAY!!) Unfortunately, Aphra and Caleb have been estranged for some time, as he clings to the past and she tries to forge ahead, picking up the pieces of a life without her community.

That is, until the same government who took everything away from her now want to recruit her to assist them in returning to Innsmouth. Ron Spector is the FBI agent who comes calling, hoping that Aphra will help him find out more information on a body-switching technique that he fears Russians may have studied at the Miskatonic University.

“Odd how automatic masks are, even with those who’ve seen beneath them.”

I'd be remiss if I didn't say that the blurb by Seanan McGuire was what originally caught my eye when I first picked up this book a few years ago. It's a beautiful quote by an author that I have much respect for. It didn't hurt that this is a Lovecraft retelling, either!

I did struggle with the pace, especially in the beginning. However, there was a lot that I dug! The bones of the story kept me interested enough in the quiet moments; Aphra is a compelling character, with her strong sense of duty; and of course, the found family trope which I will never get tired of!

In the Acknowledgements section of Winter Tide, Emrys mentions the three groups of readers when it comes to the problematic Lovecraft - the faction that loves his work, those that absolutely loathe it and the others that refuse to ever read it. I sit somewhere between the first two factions, for the most part. From what I've read, I can't deny his talent. Cosmic, atmospheric horror is something I've always loved. Would that foundation that was developed by Lovecraft be what it currently is without him? Who can truly say. But one thing is for certain.. H.P. Lovecraft was a fucking vile, horrible, disgusting bigot.

I've now read a number of works that have taken Lovecraft and completely transformed the influences into the antithesis of his work. Less suppressed. More diverse. Stories where bigotry itself is the horror. And that is what Ruthanna Emrys does with Winter Tide.

Winter Tide is a story that blends real history with fantasy. Delving into representation, identity, found families and what makes a monster. It's gloriously diverse - filled with women, queer characters and non-white people. Essentially, it's a collection of nightmare fuel for Lovecraft, which I can't help but applaud!
Profile Image for John.
104 reviews
June 9, 2017
4.5 stars
When it comes to the existential dread of man's insignificance in an irrational universe, nobody beats H.P. Lovecraft. Like Wolverine, he's the best there is at what he does.

That said, there are definitely some things he does NOT do. Pathos, characterization -- these are not so much his forté. No one, I sincerely hope, has ever said "You know, I really relate to Yog-Sothoth on a personal level," or "I feel like the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred is a cherished friend."

In Winter Tide, Ruthanna Emrys takes Lovecraft's universe and injects all of these things. And she does it really, really well. This is definitely a character-driven story; in fact the actual plot is pretty bare-bones, as far as "things happening". The cast is compelling enough that this never became a problem for me except in the final act, which I thought could have been stronger.

Strangely enough, there's not much horror in this book. The "Big Threat" that is introduced in the last third is extremely vague and its scariness potential is pretty much wasted. It's more like Urban Fantasy with a Lovecraft theme. I'm not going to lie, this was kind of a letdown for me and I considered going all the way down to 4 stars...but since this is the first in a series, I've decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that we get some scares in the next book (dare I hope for a Shoggoth?).

I would absolutely recommend this book even, and maybe especially, if you're not a fan of Lovecraft.

It should be noted that the story ties in very closely with several of HPL's stories -- namely, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Shadow Out of Time, and The Thing on the Doorstep. The former is almost required reading as this is technically a direct sequel to it; the latter two are more supplemental. I'm very much hoping this continues and we get more tie-ins with the upcoming books.

I listened to the audiobook edition, which I can definitely recommend. The narrator did a great job.
Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,251 reviews296 followers
February 7, 2017
Review of WINTER TIDE by Ruthanna Emrys

WINTER TIDE will clearly be one of my favorites of 2017, and one of my all-time top novels in the Lovecraftian Mythos category. Appropriately in Women in Horror Month (February), I want to acknowledge the influence of two women horror writers, both of whom excel at play in the fields of The Lovecraft Mythos: Ruthanna Emrys, and Caitlin R. Kiernan. The writings of both are truly exceptional.

In WINTER TIDES, I am gifted with all that I seek in fantasy, all that I ask of science fiction, all I could imagine in Lovecraft's universes, and my mind is stretched beyond its usual capacity. Ms. Emrys waives any need for suspension of disbelief. Everything in the novel seems as real and as vivid as anything I might view through my windows. Innsmouth and Arkham; Miskatonic University and its sister institution, the Hall School; body thieving and the various species of humankind (people of the rock; people of the water; people of the air) are so vividly realised as to make them, indeed, real to readers. Even in its post-World War II setting, there are serious overtones reaching back to the U.S.'s interment of Japanese-Americans during that war, and forward to the political witch hunts in the 1950's by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee in their quests to find Communists under each rock, and further to today's political climate and fear/hatred of the unknown (in this case, the “unknown” ethnicities, such as the “fish-folk” formerly of Innsmouth, and any practitioners of magic, and the Yith).

H. P. Lovecraft might in his day have taken exception to the idea of a female writer working in his Mythos, but I for one am very thankful that Ruthanna Emrys has chosen to expand on his foundation. I'll be rereading WINTER TIDES repeatedly, enclosing myself in its literate explications, reveling in the language and in the metaphysics of the Lovecraft Mythos.
Profile Image for Patrick.G.P.
163 reviews95 followers
June 28, 2017
At page 322 I just had to stop reading, could not finish this, surprised that I managed to read this far actually. Really disliked this book, I find the idea of humanizing the deep ones quite terrible, and too far removed from the works of Lovecraft which I grew up loving. I find it perplexing that someone gets so hung up on Lovecraft's personal views to overlook the very basic ideas of cosmic horror featured in his stories.
Profile Image for P. Kirby.
Author 5 books71 followers
October 29, 2017
Lovecraft fan fiction without Lovecraft's ponderous prose, but also without any of Lovecraft's creepy atmosphere.

I've only read snippets of Lovecraft's writing but based on what little I do know, Winter Tide features a sanitized, gentrified version of the Deep Ones. For me, lacking any significant background in things Lovecraftian, this was stunningly boring.

The story follows Agra or Adra, or whatever her name is, a member of a human/not-human species of humanoids who turn fishy after living for some time on land and return to the sea. They lived in the "idyllic" village of Innsmouth until the big, bad gov'ment decided their occult ways were a threat and incarcerated them in a desert internment camp. Years later, the protagonist and her brother are the only land-based members of their species left alive. To belabor the point that they are oppressed, the story explains that these camps would later also be occupied by Japanese during WWII. Although the whole oppressed people thing is heavy-handed, it's the most interesting part of the novel.

The bulk of the story, at least in the first third, however, consists of Agra, Adra, whatever, wandering around libraries with her sullen brother and her student/boyfriend and other forgettable people. You'd think that the pace might pick up when the protagonist's sea-dwelling elders arrive on scene, but nope. More dull conversations doth ensue.

I picked this up-free, thank Dog--thinking something Lovecraft/Cthulhu would be great for this, the season of things that go bump in the night. Instead it turned out to be the typical dross that the SFF literati swoon over, overwritten, pretentious and dull. The protagonist is prim, stiff, formal and without any charm. Her characterization is one note--she loves books, so therefore, the reader is supposed to love her. Not. The supporting characters are bland and undistinguished one from the other.

Best part of the book is the cover.

I've got a family member in hospice and don't have the patience for this shite. DNF at 33%.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews664 followers
January 31, 2018
I said recently that I've now read more reinterpretations of Lovecraft than I have Lovecraft. (That wasn't hard, I've only read In the Mountains of Madness.) I guess today the scales are weighted even further on that side, with three interpretations up against one original. There's something about Lovecraft, even with, and perhaps because of, the racism, that makes it something to explore further, to look at how race intertwines with the Mythos, and grapple with what it would mean to take the lives of those he othered seriously.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Stacey.
266 reviews457 followers
March 27, 2017
Even given my unfamiliarity with much of classic Lovecraftian lore, I found the story compelling and the main character richly drawn.

Not a perfect story, there were characters who proved critical who were scarcely more than sketches, (particularly Charlie,) and the ending felt a bit abrupt.

In spite of those small criticisms, I loved the subversion of primary objections to Lovecraft both as a (dubious) human, and as a (racist, misogynist) writer, significantly by resting so much of the story on the shoulders of two young women, and a gay Jewish man.

Brava. Very much recommended.

(Review of ARC.)
Profile Image for C.T. Phipps.
Author 73 books597 followers
June 2, 2023
WINTER TIDE by Ruthanna Emrys is a book that deserves more love. So, for Pride Month, I've decided to give it a review. The book ticks most of the boxes for what I love in fiction: not only is it an H.P. Lovecraft-inspired story but it is also something that reinterprets the Mythos for a modern audience. Like Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff or my own Cthulhu Armageddon, it's a work which tackles HPL's controversial elements head on and does something interesting with them.

In the case of Winter Tide, it is a sequel to the novella A Litany of Earth which was originally published on Tor's website and is actually available at the back of the novel. I suggest readers who want to fully enjoy this work read both A Litany of Earth first as well as H.P. Lovecraft's The Shadow over Innsmouth, which remains his most famous work as well as the work which this is a perspective flip as well as continuation of. This book can be read as a standalone but I recommend reading both, personally.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Shadow over Innsmouth, the premise is a young New England scholar heads to the titular town of Innsmouth. It is a decaying hellhole of a fishing village with the locals all looking grossly deformed with huge eyes, scaly skin, and frog-like bodies. Gradually, the protagonist discovers the Innsmouthers have been interbreeding with a evil race of fish men called the Deep Ones and worshiping the dread god Cthulhu. The protagonist calls the US government down on them and they're all arrested before being herded into camps.

Ruthanna Emrys takes this rather horrifying ending, if you treat them as people rather than monsters, and makes a series about the camps' (almost) sole survivor. In this universe, the Deep Ones were just a peaceful aquatic race which was unfairly maligned by both H.P. Lovecraft's protagonist as well as the US government. The same camps which held Japanese Americans during WW2 contain the leftovers of the Innsmouth Raid. Aphra is traumatized by the event and simply wants to get on with her life--but the US government isn't done with her.

Aphra Marsh's story is basically the H.P. Lovecraft version of Wicked where up is down, black is white, and the Mythos is good rather than evil. The US government hideously wronged Aphra and her people but have the gaul to want her help in dealing with magical matters. Magic isn't evil in this universe but it's not "safe" either and plenty of humans are messing with forces which could end up destroying the world by accident. So, Aphra, heads off to join an FBI team trying to find a Russian spy in Miskatonic University.

The book advertises itself as a spy thriller but it's mostly a drama about Aphra coming to terms with the appropriation of her people's books and cultural artifacts by Miskatonic University. She has to go to New England in order to look at her people's own work and request them from the library which stole them. Meanwhile, she also has to deal with a variety of personages who want to take her religious practices then remove all context from them in order to make a purely scientific form of magic.

I found these elements of the book very timely with things like Trevor Noah talking about how museums in Europe refuse tor return African art taken during the colonial era as well as things like Mindfulness that attempt to remove all Buddhism from Buddhist practices. Some of this is intended by Ruthanna Emrys while other is just happy coincidence I'm sure. The book is never preachy but is definitely written from the perspective of a minority coping with having her culture turned "trendy." It makes me wonder what she'd think of Cthulhu slippers since he's their version of Jesus.

I liked the eccentric cast of characters which the author assembles around Aphra Marsh. Spector is a true blue Captain America sort of patriot but you have to wonder if he realizes just how much he's re-opening old wounds in his attempt to make amends for his country's crimes. Professor Turnball is a delightful character and I liked the slow revelations about how her relationships (like her maid that the Great Race of Yith drove off). Barlow and his team of idiot FBI magicians also served as fun antagonists, even if I sympathized with them more than I should have. It reminded me a bit of a Mythos version of Agent Carter but with less action and more melancholy.

Does the book have any flaws? Well, I'm going to be remiss if I didn't say the book is sometimes a bit on the slow side. There's also the fact Aphra Marsh is not particularly interested in finding out the identity of the Russian spy in Miskatonic University's library. She gets around to it eventually but there's never a confrontation or dramatic payoff. Instead, she's sidetracked by her "fellow" FBI agents and visiting Innsmouth for the first time in years. For those wanting Aphra to get involved in spywork, it's a bit of a disappointment. This is a small flaw, however. One simply needs to understand what sort of book this is.

There's also the fact this is a love letter to Lovecraft (Cthulhu, Deep Ones, geometric magic) but not necessarily Lovecraftian (scary unknowable dread) despite its use of the characters. To invoke my Wicked comparison above, this is not a book about how the Mythos is particularly scary to anyone but people who see cosmic insignificance as a sanity blasting thing by itself. Both the religious and irreligious both have often taken the view mankind is a small thing and this is a book where HPL's creatures are merely weird rather than terrifying. You'll appreciate this book more if you know the Mythos inside and out but also have to leave your prejudices the cult of Cthulhu eats babies at the door. Aphra isn't about to find out her people were secretly evil all along like some HPL protagonists did.

Pride Month wise, this is both a book by a LGBT author as well as something that is sprinkled with a cast full of gay. Aphra herself is somewhat ambiguous in her sexuality with the author she's a asexual woman who has lesbian romantic tones. This quality which, sadly, she is blind to the feelings of her companion regarding her. The FBI agent assisting Aphra is also deeply closeted, understandably so given the time period and his place of employment.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book and I think your enjoyment will be affected by how much you know (and love) H.P. Lovecraft while also being willing to put up with some good-natured criticism of his concepts. Aphra and the Deep Ones are a bit too nice at times but still likable characters. Besides, you don't want to give them any sorts of characteristics that might make the treatment of them seem justified (especially when drawing parallels to real life history). It's, overall, an extremely entertaining novel and good scifi.
Profile Image for Lost Planet Airman.
1,250 reviews73 followers
November 28, 2021
Ha! So long story short, the girlfriend's dog comes down with kennel cough the day before we are set to travel for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend, where 'we' means her, me, my grown-up daughter and my high-school age son. Dog can't go with us and can't hang with other dogs in our absence, and we can't find a dedicated dog-sitter to protect the house from chew-barker for a weekend. Girlfriend has to stay behind. So I choose to stay as well. We have a nice, just two Thanksgiving while my progeny see other relatives elsewhere. And I get to plow thorough audio-books while they are out!

Winter Tide was surprisingly good as an ear-read. Characters were smart and sensible (well, a couple antagonists were smart but lacking in sense), the settings, including languages, were handled well, and the plot proceeded nicely without guns or explosions.

A quick synopsis, you say? Well, some of the joy in the book is the slow unveiling of long-lived secrets, but try this on for starters: Aphra Marsh is a survivor of a secret internment camp -- one that was already 13 years old when Japanese-Americans were interned there in 1942. Oh, and she is there because, well, the stuff H.P. Lovecraft wrote about her home town of Innsmouth turned out to be pretty true -- there's another branch of humanity with access to eldritch magicks and relatives that live in the ocean. Luckily for Aphra, her book-seller employer has become her student, her Japanese-American step-family loves here, and the agent-in-charge of an FBI weird-happenings task force who "manages" her case is both open-minded and protective of his charges. She thinks she and her brother Caleb may even be able to forge lives as the last generation of her kind -- until Agent Spector enters her life again, with a mission to determine if the Soviets have access to weaponized magic from the remains of Innsmouth.
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