Tides – Betsy Cornwell


13112921When high-school senior Noah Gallagher and his adopted teenage sister, Lo, go to live with their grandmother in her island cottage for the summer, they don’t expect much in the way of adventure. Noah has landed a marine biology internship, and Lo wants to draw and paint, perhaps even to vanquish her struggles with bulimia. But then things take a dramatic turn for them both when Noah mistakenly tries to save a mysterious girl from drowning. This dreamlike, suspenseful story—deftly told from multiple points of view—dives deeply into selkie folklore while examining the fluid nature of love and family.


I’ve always had such a problem with books about mermaids and selkies. I have found a few that were enjoyable, but I still have not found one that blew me out of the park. I really wanted to give Tides by Betsy Cornwell a shot because not only was the cover gorgeous, but the synopsis captivated me as well. Unfortunately, my hopes came crashing down with this one, as I was not as fascinated as I had hoped to be.

The first 40 or so pages of this book were absolutely brilliant. I loved the contemporary and fantasy genres mixed together. It gave the book a light and airy feel to it that was really attractive. However, I didn’t like the selky aspect of the story, which is obviously a major part of it. I found that part of the storyline to be very slow and a little weird for my personal tastes.

I enjoy books with a single narrator, but I can occasionally handle books with two narrators. I counted at least 5 narrators in this book, and I found that to be a bit sloppy and excessive. I ended up skimming a big chunk of this book, so for all I know there could be even more than 5 narrators presented in the book. I would have preferred one narrator so that everything went more smoothly and stayed on track.

Because so many narrators were presented in this book, there wasn’t a lot of time dedicated to a relationship between Noah and Mara. As I said before, I skimmed the last half of this book, so that may have progressed. But there was really no foundation laid down for Noah and Mara, and I wish that more groundwork would have been set between the two from the very getgo.

I also found it very confusing that the main characters were Noah and Mara. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin is a very popular series right now, and the two main characters are Noah and Mara. I found it to be a bit difficult to separate the two characters from the individual books. This may be something that many readers will have no complaint with, but it really bothered me.

For a big chunk of this book, I honestly thought that it was set in Ireland. I know that I preprogrammed myself to think this because Betsy Cornwell actually lives in Ireland, but it took me a long time to realize that her characters were not stationed there. It made it a bit confusing for the overline storyline.

I find it difficult to tell people whether or not to go out and buy this book, because it really comes down to this book just not being a book for me. I can see Tides being really popular with fans of water/mermaid/selky stories and contemporary fans. Tides is a really mellow, soft and soothing read that will captivate readers and make them feel as if they are truly in the story. However, the book was just not for me, and I ended up wanting to see a lot more progression in the story itself.

Pages: 336

Publication Date: June 4th, 2013

Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Rating: [rating: 2]


Teaser Quote: “Noah saw a shadow move behind a jutting boulder. He pulled off his headphones. He heard a sharp splah, out of rhythm with the waves, and a crack like breaking bones. A deep cough followed, and a gurgling gasp.

He yanked off his shirt and scrambled down the rocks, scanning the water for the drowning person. He saw a whitish shape under a wave and lunged toward it. There – his arms closed on a soft, struggling form.

A girl slipped in Noah’s grasp. She had cropped black hair and silvery pale skin, and – he realized with horror – she was completely naked. He pulled back instinctively and help up his hands to show his innocence.

She stood there glaring at him, fire in her eyes and seawater streaming over her body. 

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