Hold Back the Tide

Hold Back the Tide by Melinda Salisbury

Everyone knows what happened to Alva’s mother, all those years ago.

But when dark forces begin to stir in Ormscaula, Alva has to face a very different future – and question everything she thought she knew about her past…


Hope, year 8

11th March 2021 at 3:01 pm

I really liked Hold back the tide as it is one of my favourite book genres, mystery, I liked the storyline because you never really know what is going to happen next and when you think you do, something else happens.

This book is about a girl called Alva who lives in a deserted area with her father who is the loch’s keeper. When she was young, she swore she heard her father kill her mother and has been afraid ever since so she keeps to her 4 rules. One: Do not draw attention to yourself. Two: If you can’t be invisible, be useful. Three: If you can’t beat them join them (not in murder obviously). Four: Do not make them angry.

These are the rules that she hopes will make sure not to get killed but she doesn’t know the whole story of what happened that night. She has a best friend called Ren and he brings her equipment because one night, she wants to run away.

At some point in the book, she finds herself in jail with her father and then they are forced to talk, and she learns the whole picture about that night. Sadly, that was the last time she ever saw him alive but she won’t be alone for long.

My favourite character is probably Gavan as he never questions her and believes her. Like when she told him about what happened with her and his father. Gavan just locked him in the attic where she was previously forced to stay. He helps her when she needs it without question and that is what a good friend should do.

I really enjoyed reading this book because it was filled with mystery and plot twists especially at the end which was sad. It can be sad when true love can not be together in the end. I was really surprised in a good way when Alva’s father explained everything to her because she gained some trust.

Anna, year 8

11th March 2021 at 3:01 pm

I really enjoyed reading Hold Back The Tide because it wasn’t at all what I expected. Advertised as a horror novel I was unsure if I would enjoy the book, but to my surprise I did!

The book started with great description of the Scottish town, Ormscaula and the Loch, and this made it very easy to visualise the setting. The night when Alva sees the “monster” is when I felt the horror starts happening. All of Alva’s plan to leave Ormscaula are abandoned, and she stays to find out more about the “monsters”. I did not expect the book to end the way it did (spoiler alert!) when Alva discovered her mother was one of the “monsters” and with Alva nearly turning into one.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hold Back The Tide and would recommend it to anyone who likes gripping reads and good description.

Poppy, year 8

22nd January 2021 at 11:57 am

This book is set in Scotland and was so good, an eerie book full of dramatic twists that keep you on the edge of your seat the whole way through. I sped through this book and I very much enjoyed it. I think Alva is a very interesting character that everyone can learn something from. In the book, she is resourceful with quick reactions in challenging situations. This book is based around the theme of horror as well as some elements of mystery to who killed her mother 10 years ago. As you would normally expect the main character to be the hero and live, this book surprised me very much.

I would suggest this book to any one from the ages of 11-15. And rate it 4 stars.

Ella, year 9

7th January 2021 at 3:10 pm

It started off with a line that instantly captivated you and made you interested. ‘here are the rules of living with a murderer.’ I thought that it made a good first impression. The book is set in the olden times, I’m guessing near medieval, but I’m not sure as it never gives an exact date. I’m guessing the date was inspired by old myths and legends of monsters and supernatural creatures from those times so it’s a good setting for a story like this to take place. The main character Alva is quite clever as she plans out how to make sure her father doesn’t kill her. Her friend Ren is kind of hot and a nice guy and you can see them always bantering and chatting back and forth which I think is adorable. I also like how to author managed to include some representation, for example Ren’s leg and I think that it was important that it wasn’t his entire personality as well. The story really begins on page 95 where the Naomhfhuil (it’s really hard to spell) is revealed and later through the story, it is revealed that it isn’t her father she should really be worried about, but the creatures instead. The ending did shatter me though, I was sad that it had to end like it did, but I guess it was good because it was realistic as most stories that are real don’t have happy endings. Overall, it was a good book, but I think lots of readers might not finish it because they’ll lose focus because it takes a long time to build up the plot. I’d aim this at avid readers because it does take some time to persevere.

Roma, year 8

7th January 2021 at 3:06 pm

Hold Back the Tide is an electrifying horror book written by Melinda Salisbury which follows the life of a young girl called Alva living cautiously, a mere ten feet away from a supposed murderer. From the very first line, this book was captivating, drawing you in. However, after the first chapter, I did think that this book was quite slow until about 1/3 of the way through with little action. Despite this, the book was very gripping from then on and I loved how it wasn’t generic and had lots of unexpected outcomes, especially in the ending which was very dramatic. Salisbury made you feel like you were living in the book from start to finish which made the horror aspect of this story even more blood-curdling.

The setting has to be my favourite part of this book as the way it is described really illustrates the horror genre of the book and ties in neatly with the mysteriousness of the plot and the sense of the unknown. I also really enjoyed the development of the characters throughout the plot such as Ren, who I was not excited by at first.

Overall, I found this book very exciting but also petrifying and as the book progressed, and truth started to be unveiled, something out of the blue pushed right through. I would recommend this book to early teens around my age.

Emma, year 8

7th January 2021 at 3:06 pm

This book was so good; creepy and full of suspense. I really like the way it is written by making the first 90 or so pages all about description and it really sets the scene so that when you get past that point everything really starts to make sense and the book really evolves and so does Alva. My favourite part of the book was when Alva discovered what really happened to her mother because it is not what I expected to happen. I would recommend this book to people who love thrillers and books with unexpected endings.

Lara, Yr 8

7th January 2021 at 3:05 pm

Hold Back the Tide was the book that I was looking forward to reading the most and it was definitely my favourite book to read. I loved how the book was written and it was so easy to follow. Alva’s character was so powerful and strong. She was so confident in herself and did not expect any favours from anyone-she was my favourite character. I thought the plot was so interesting and how it turned into a completely different type of book on page 95 was such a good twist and really made me want to keep on reading. Alva’s relationship with Ren was very fascinating. I liked how at the start they were just friends but as the book progressed their relationship grew.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and I would suggest it to anyone!

Michelle, year 9

7th January 2021 at 3:04 pm

It starts off very much like a murder mystery, which interested me a lot. However, as it progressed, I felt like the element, of figuring whether it was the father who killed the mother, fades. I thought that Alva was a very interesting character. In the book she is resourceful, smart, and very fast thinking. I felt that the tension between the dad and Alva eventually is replaced by the strange creature, that stalks and strikes terror in the nearby town. I think this would be an enjoyable book for those who like horror or thriller books. Overall, I thought it was a gripping and suspenseful book, that I liked reading.

Evie, Yr 8

7th January 2021 at 3:02 pm

Hold Back The Tide is definitely one of my favourite books I have read so far! It’s very well written and I would definitely call it a horror book without hesitation. Alva is a strong character, who I liked more and more as the story went on, and her bravery shone through in multiple parts of the book. I loved the Scottish setting and imagining the cottage, the mountains and loch came easy to me because of the brilliant descriptions. The only thing I wish would be different is the ending- it broke my heart. We got to know Alva throughout the whole story, witnessed her reckless plans and her heroic achievements, and I was not prepared for her to die. Unlike some of the other books I have read, all the different characters stood out to me, and it felt like they were all written carefully with a lot of thought. So overall, Hold Back The Tide is an extraordinary book, which I would recommend to anybody wanting to read an amazing horror story!

Isaac, year 9

7th January 2021 at 3:00 pm

Hold Back the Tide is a great fantasy novel with an element of thriller. It is a book with a strong story, creating an interesting read and an absolute page turner. The creatures are very well described and sent shivers down my spine when they emerged. My only problem with this book is that too many characters died.

Darcey, Yr 8

7th January 2021 at 2:53 pm

I loved Hold Back the Tide. It was gripping and exciting from the beginning and I never wanted to stop reading it. Although it was exciting and an amazing story in the beginning, after about 90 pages I fell in love. The description of the òlanfhuil was detailed and it helped to imagine how they frightened and terrorised people. The way the author slowly revealed what was going on and why made you want to read on. Alva’s character made the book even better as her strong character helped uncover the truth and helped her face dangers that lead to others safety. I also enjoyed how there wasn’t just one truth that Alva uncovered, but how she uncovered the truth about her father and mother and how that intertwined with the rest of the plot. I found her relationship with the people of Ormscaula interesting and how she grew a closer relationship with them when they need to come together and fight. I particularly loved how she interacts with Ren and how in the end he learns to fully trust her. I love how Alva puts others needs before hers and how she fights against evil, even when most people don’t believe that there is anything to fight against.

I think this book should be a 12+ because some of the descriptions are quite gruesome and horrific so I don’t think younger readers would enjoy it much. Overall, I love Hold Back the Tide and I would definitely recommend it.

Heng Man Yr 8

7th January 2021 at 2:53 pm

Rating: 4 stars

I think Hold back the Tide was interesting in the middle and the end but in the beginning it was boring. My favourite parts of the book were when they find out all about the creatures, like how they burn to ash under the sun and how only silver bullets can harm them. And the part when Alya found out her mum had turned into one of them surprised me. I kind of knew all along that her father did not kill her mother but I was not sure, so it made me keep on reading the book. I also liked about how Alya was really smart, which gave the adventures a bit more fun. I also liked the part when she was put in the cell and her dad told her the truth.

Oscar, year 9

7th January 2021 at 2:52 pm

I feel that Hold Back the tide is a very gripping book. Usually when I read books I don’t feel that much emotion, however this one did because I was locked into it. I really like the genre of the book because it’s based on a mystery of a relative and it portrays itself as a horror, and horror is my favourite genre, book or film. I like horror because it keeps you on your toes all the time in case something dramatic happens or something unfolds in the story. In my opinion I’d give it a 9/10 because it’s a very well structured book and the ending will shock you…

Shimmy, year 8

9th December 2020 at 7:11 pm

I feel Hold Back The Tide was a unique book. It was unique in the way it made me feel. Usually when I read I do not feel any emotions as I am not locked onto it. The books I read never really grip me onto it however this book did. I was really impressed with the fact that it was a horror book, what I mean by this is that it is really difficult to be able to make someone feel even in the slightest scared through words and description without using pictures but Melinda Salisbury managed to do so- the skill in this author is very good. The vulnerability in this books was immense. You were never sure when danger could strike as every moment in the book was a good angle for it to do so.

One of my favourite books. Will be looking for more books by her!!!

Dorine, year 9

3rd December 2020 at 12:38 pm

I think it’s really difficult to write a horror book. I mean to be able to terrify someone just by words and not pictures is really hard. Melinda Salisbury managed to do just that for me. I was reading a bit of it before going to bed and I felt scared. Her descriptive words made me feel like I was right there with Alva. Compared to other horror books that I’ve read Hold Back the Tide was something completely new and refreshing. I also enjoy how there’s almost a feeling that there’s two monsters: Alva’s dad and what’s in the loch. Melinda’s writing really knows how to keep a reader hooked. The book was around 300 pages but it went by so fast, but the story itself didn’t feel rushed. I loved all the characters in this book I mean yes Alva and Ren, but the way Alva’s dad was written from Alva’s perspective it was so captivating. I felt as if I had known Alva’s dad for as long as she had. The ending was truly shocking, I don’t want to reveal anything but it is truly not what you expect.

Georgia, year 9

1st December 2020 at 5:02 pm

Set in a small, isolated town called Ormscaula in the Scottish highlands, the book follows a curious teen called Alva, who lives in a lonely loch-side cottage with her father, who people believed to have killed her mother ten years ago. She spends her time avoiding her father and plotting her escape. She helps her father in his work as guardian of the loch. The book is chilling, it was written well, and therefore I was engaged the entire time. I enjoyed the dramatic style of the book, and found Alva quite an interesting and complicated character. I would recommend this book to children around my age.

Sophie, year 9

1st December 2020 at 5:01 pm

Hold Back the Tide is a book that follows the story of Alva, a 16-year-old girl, who believes that her father murdered her mother when she was a child. One of the most interesting things about this book was how Melinda Salisbury was able to include both monsters, murder, and small-town life all in one book while simultaneously keeping the story flowing. It was fast paced but also easy to read, which is a perfect balance.

My favourite part of the book was the setting. I liked how it was so beautiful but also the perfect place for the mythical horror genre. I also appreciated how the setting was very important to the storyline as I feel like some authors often neglect the setting whereas this was not an issue with this book.

Alva was also an amazing lead role, and I liked her narrative. I usually prefer an outside narrative perspective however, I really enjoyed being able to hear the unique, strategic way Alva thinks.

Finally, Hold Back the Tide had a tremendous and very emotional ending that followed a very unexpected twist. I truly recommend this book to those who specifically enjoy the mystical feeling in books. This paired with the very satisfying ending made for a great read.

Eva May, year 9

26th November 2020 at 6:31 pm

It’s a really great book, I love the horror aspect of the book, when you start off reading it you would think it wouldn’t be as scary as it is and everything is going well until halfway through. I would really recommend this book as I loved reading it and give it 9.5/10

Thomas, year 9

26th November 2020 at 6:31 pm

The book started with a slow pace, and I must admit that I was getting a bit bored of waiting for the plot to build up. The characters were interesting, and I enjoyed the mystery in the first chapters over the mother’s death, but I did not enjoy the character of Ren, as I found him irritating, and I found that he did not develop much throughout the book, and I feel as though he should have done.

When the book starts to pick up pace, I found it extremely gripping, and I loved the design and concept of the creatures in this book. I found the idea of them turning people, almost like zombies, made them even more frightening, and made the characters seem more vulnerable and at risk. I loved the eventual truth of what really happened to Alva’s mother, and I thought it was a great choice as it made the eventual death of her father even more impactful and emotional.

The ending was very emotional, and I loved the fact that it was not generic, but something different from most books, as the main character dies, and I found the stretched out lead up to her slow death, as she turns into one of these monsters, makes the events seem out of our control, and makes the ending even more emotional and finalized.

Overall, I found this book a great read, and I would definitely recommend this to about ages 12-16.

James, year 9

26th November 2020 at 6:30 pm

I enjoyed this book quite a lot, despite it not being the usual style of book I read. This book is based in a lonely village in Scotland, a perfect isolated setting for the strange story that unravels there. The book revolves around a young girl called Alva who lives with her father. After her mother’s death, Alva presumes her father is the killer, creating a tense grab to the story, with the first chapter being purely about how to survive in a house with a murderer. Later through the story, she discovers the real truth about what had truly happened.

I enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend to anyone interested in mystery and anticipation. Melinda Salisbury has managed to keep the book interesting at all points, and is severely talented at hooking in the reader, especially near the beginning of the book. Melinda Salisbury chose a great setting for this story, as the town is isolated in the countryside of Scotland, providing many possibilities of what could happen and keeping the reader on edge. I really like this book and hope others enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Francesca, year 8

26th November 2020 at 6:24 pm

Hold back the tide is an amazing book and I absolutely love it! It is very gripping all the way through. There is a lot of description but it is easy to read with its fast moving pace. I would recommend this book to horror lovers and non-horror lovers, but if you get scared easily, I wouldn’t read it at night-time before bed! This is a brilliant book and I definitely recommend it to all.

Minnie, year 8

26th November 2020 at 6:23 pm

Hold Back the Tide was a very scary book. It was good scary though as it gave me a change because I never usually read horror books, I only watch horror movies. The ending of Hold Back the Tide was, for me, the best part of the book.

It is a very good book and I would recommend it to everyone, within the age range!

Emily, year 8

24th November 2020 at 1:57 pm

Review by Emily in Y8:

I really enjoyed Hold Back the Tide, I felt that it kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through. Each chapter was left on a cliff hanger which made me just read even further. Hold Back the Tide is a great horror book and it gets your adrenaline pumping from start to end! I would definitely recommend this book because of how the author has made the book so unexpected through page to page!

Callum, year 9

24th November 2020 at 1:55 pm

I feel this book is very enjoyable and days go fast but nights, when monsters roam, are slow and spine tingling. This has got to be one of my favourite books and I was gripped to keep reading and see what happens next. It was so much fun and scary to read.

Alex, year 9

19th November 2020 at 4:45 pm

Hold Back the Tide is an incredibly intense novel that grips you by the throat from the start and never lets you go. Hold Back the Tide is set in Scotland and is around the 19th-20th century. The setting of where the main character, Alva, a very strong-willed female protagonist and her supposed murderer dad in an extremely isolated area fits well with the themes and events of the book. For example, their house is a long way away from the village and Alva has to take a 1 hour journey every day to go back and forth from the village. The ending of Hold Back The Tide is very fitting to how the story has been taking you the entire time. In conclusion this book would make a great film/TV series and was a terrific read.

Neriah, year 8

19th November 2020 at 4:44 pm

Hold Back the Tide was a tremendously intriguing horror story. The plot was very interesting and twisted away entirely from what I imagined initially as (although it was very intriguing ) the blurb painted a picture of the exact story and so did the first couple of pages so it seemed very predictable, like I knew what was going to happen to the protagonist – and then the mystery creature showed up, thwarting her plans which I think was extremely intelligent. Then you have the small romance dilemma which the protagonist experiences and it intertwined with the main plot to create the perfect balance of compassion and horror. I do recommend this book but suggest that you read it at lighter parts of the day, far away from any sort of lake but not just before you go to sleep as I did.

Bertie, year 9

18th November 2020 at 9:51 am

‘Hold Back the Tide’ is a novel written by Melinda Salisbury that is set in Scotland. The book features one main character who is a sixteen year-old girl called Alva. The book doesn’t reference a certain time period that the story is set in, however, we can assume that the story is based between 1700 and 1900.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel, I thought it was very well written and the author combines the genres of drama and horror brilliantly throughout the novel. The author has created her own fictional monster to great effect and uses their introduction to switch the genre of the novel from drama to horror. This was an ingenious plot twist in the novel as it hooks the reader in and engrosses them in the story.

The story built in pace throughout the novel providing the reader with a constant feeling of curiosity. The characters were developed very well and by the end of the story the reader feels a connection with each of them, whether it be disgust with Giles or desperately wanting Alva to succeed. It is undeniable that this ability is incredible and what I expected from a bestselling author.

I would highly recommend this book to people who enjoy the horror genre, however, it may not appeal to people who dislike horror.

Harry, Ardingly

13th November 2020 at 3:26 pm

The book starts off strongly with the drama and mystery of Alva’s vanishing mother. She lives constantly in fear of her dad who people and she herself think is a murderer. However later on in the book all is revealed when she encounters a strange creature in the woods and the book takes a sudden shift from drama to horror. The switch surprises you and is definitely what the book needs. I love the horror and mystery aspects of the book, sent chills down my spine and had me gripping the edge of my seat. Amazing book and full of the unknown, would definitely recommend.

Mrs G, Mayfield School

24th October 2020 at 5:23 pm

Mrs G, Mayfield School

Hold the Tide

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading this book, but I quickly believed in the characters and was carried along with them, as they navigated the path ahead. The author deftly wove the story and I was hooked until the end.

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