Black Tide by KC Jones

Posted On 2 June 2022

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My Five Word TL:DR Review: I couldn’t put it down

Blacktide

Black Tide was a great read for me.  It pulled me in very quickly and had me turning the pages so fast that I read it in almost record breaking time.  The writing was snappy and the tension was cranked up.  A quick one night stand turns into the strangest survival story.  This is a slice of life, snapshot of a story that literally takes place at the beach and is packed with horror and nightmare ish creatures.

Okay, so this will probably be a short review because I don’t want to give away too much.  All I can say is that this story grabbed my attention much more effectively than I expected.  The writing was great and I have to say I really enjoyed the characters – not that they didn’t occasionally frustrate me or make me want to shake them – but I liked them.  And the creatures – Jones – what the heck?  I mean, this book is touted as ‘Cujo meets A Quiet Place’ – well, I’m not qualified to endorse that description *ahem, not read them (**coughs**, yet)*.  For me this started out with Day of the Triffid vibes and quickly descended into something equally hideous and scary.  Think Little Shop of Horrors – except not, think some weird Lovecraft-Cosmic style horror – but not, think of your basic tentacled nightmare, think some kind of weird, Predator style, rabid critters, think of much worse.  Basically, horrible monsters doing what comes naturally.  It’s enough to put anyone off stepping foot on a beach ever again – except, let’s be honest, the nightmares are not restricted to the beach so basically be very afraid.

The plot is fairly basic tbh but don’t let that fool you.  We have two characters, both nursing their own ‘hurts’ who meet, drink, get merry and have a what-was-intended-to-only-be-a-one-night-stand.  The universe had other plans.  During the night, what can only be described as an apocalyptic event, takes place.  Unaware of the terrors that now lurk almost everywhere, the two go ‘meteor’ spotting at the beach, as you do.  To say that they’re staggeringly unprepared is perhaps the understatement of the century and yet it is this lack of knowledge and pre-planning that leads to such a punchy story.

In a nutshell the two (and their dog) end up quite literally between the devil and the deep blue sea!  Except it’s not the devil but a number of hideous and aggressive creatures, the likes of which have never been seen before, that have them trapped on the beach.  Infested dunes on one side, rising tide on the other (Clouds to the left of me Oceans to the right, here they are, stuck in the middle with who? Sorry).

As I said, I liked the characters.  Beth is very self deprecating.  I’m not going to quote her directly but she basically says that the world needs a hero and instead it got her, and she knows for a fact that she’s going to screw things up.  Except, at the end of the day, the basic will to survive is strong.  Mike, the alternate POV, has given up.  Life has thrown him some bitter lemons and he doesn’t like the taste.  He’s about ready to quit but meeting Beth is the pick him up that he didn’t foresee.  The two are not the greatest heros.  They’re, well, much like I would be, unprepared, lacking in survival skills and a bit bungling.  Similarly, they stumble upon things as they go along.  It’s actually an element to the story that I really like because seriously, how many people would be similarly unprepared.  I know I would be overwhelmingly useless.

I enjoyed the setting, which is a real testament when you consider we spend almost the entire book trapped at the beach.  I guess you could call this a ‘locked room’ horror.  Yep, those lovely dunes with the long grass blowing gently in the breeze will hold such menace after reading this.  Also, can I just mention clouds that aren’t clouds.  Going to leave that right there as a little tease.

In terms of criticisms.  Okay, I had very little, right up to the end that is.  Firstly, for all the dog lovers out there.  Meet Jake. Loyal and loving and, like plenty of fictional dogs before him, highly alert to the presence of strange, supernatural or alien like critters.  He’s really the hero of the piece.  I don’t want to give away spoilers BUT, slight spoiler alert, I’m not sure what happens to Jake at the conclusion.  He could have met a hideous ending, he could have run away.  I simply don’t know. So, half of me wants to shake my fist at the author and say ‘why, just why’ whilst the other half wants to say ‘there’s still hope, right? And the remaining 10% (maths was never my strong point) thinks, realistically, there was always going to be casualties.  Long story short, I don’t know what happened so I’ve got my own ‘happily ever after’ ending running through my head.  Which brings me to the other slight reservation – this ends on a note that could either suggest (1) scope for another instalment (looks hopefully at the author and publisher??) (2) the author decided to leave things open ended so the reader could fill in the blanks, or (c) the author couldn’t decide whether to go for the grisly, and possibly realistic, finish or not.

If you fancy a horror fueled day at the beach with unnamable creatures, pages that you can’t turn fast enough, ups and downs aplenty and a cinematic quality story that you can’t put down in spite of what might be a slightly bitter sweet ending, or not, then here you go.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars