Hetty is ready for a change, so when she receives news that a relative has died, and she’s been left a massive estate, Muirlan, in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides islands, she jumps at the chance for something new. She’s interested in turning the huge house into a hotel, but between the house’s dismal condition, a body found beneath the floorboards, and the mystery surrounding the estate’s past, Hetty might have received more than she bargained for.
The House Between Tides is a beautiful atmospheric historical novel that jumps in time between Hetty’s story and that of her ancestor, Theo, and the mystery surrounding his time at Muirlan. The finding of a body isn’t exactly an optimistic note to start a new life on, and Hetty isn’t sure what to think of any part of Muirlan, or the locals inhabiting the island it’s on. This novel is filled with uncertainty, and it contributes to the thick atmosphere well.
It’s a slow novel, to be sure—this isn’t your fact-paced crime read, with a whodunit and a twist around every corner. No, it’s a deliberate novel, moving at its own quite pace; at the beginning, it can seem like a bit of a slog, as it takes time to get going. But if you stick with it, you’re rewarded with a beautiful and rich tale about the past and present, and how the two are intertwined.
Responsibility plays a huge role in The House Between Tides—what responsibility does Hetty have to the locals of the island? What responsibility does she have to the house? Is she responsible for the actions of the family that came before her, even if she has almost no ties to them beyond blood? It’s really interesting to see this theme unfold and watch how it affects the various relationships of the novel.
If you love character-driven novels, if you love novels thick with atmosphere, if you love books where the setting is just as crucial as the characters, then you absolutely should pick up The House Between Tides. As I said, it takes awhile to get going, but once all the pieces start falling into place, it’s an incredibly rewarding and thoughtful read.