Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 4th April 2017
Winter Tide has a very interesting premise, which builds on a short story by Ruthanna Emrys, ‘The Litany of Earth’ (you can find the story free to read online here). It took me a while to get used to what was going on because I hadn’t read that short story, but once I did, things started to fall into place. I do have to say that you’d probably appreciate this more if you’re familiar with Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Since I’m not, I couldn’t appreciate a lot of the detail and the way Emrys reframes the sexist, racist themes of Lovecraft’s work. From the reviews/commentary I’ve read, that’s really well done.
The problem for me, aside from not having the background in Lovecraft’s work, is that I found it kind of slow-paced. I appreciated the character development, the descriptions, all sorts of things about the world… but I wanted a story that was going somewhere faster. It was worth sticking with it, but I found that I enjoyed ‘The Litany of Earth’ (which I read when halfway through Winter Tide) more satisfying somehow.
Still, I did appreciate that all the markers of monstrosity and so on were subverted here. I think Emrys loved the material and took care with making it more accessible to a modern, diverse audience, and it shows — as well of being a story of its own.