Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Aphra and Caleb Marsh, survivors of the government's raid on Innsmouth in 1928 and the internment camp that followed, head to the east coast to find the lost books of their people. Will Miskatonic University give up its secrets? And what of the rumors of Russians researching body-swapping magic?
After reading Litany of the Earth in Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis, I was intrigued by Ruthanna Emrys' tale of the plight of the survivors of the government's raid on Innsmouth and wanted more. Tor turned me down for an ARC of this but good old Richard came through.
The Marsh siblings, the last known People of the Water, or Deep Ones, left on land, head east to reclaim their birthright, the accumulated knowledge once housed in the homes and libraries of Innsmouth. With a couple friends in tow, and a couple more new friends met on the way, they rediscover their lost heritage and cross paths with magic most fowl.
I love what Ruthanna Emrys has built atop the foundation that HP Lovecraft laid a long time ago. Her bricks aren't mortared with hate, however. By mirroring the experiences of the Innsmouth survivors and the interned Japanese Americans in World War II, she humanizes the Deep Ones quite a bit and gives a much greater depth to their culture. The book has a message of tolerance throughout, something the world could use more of in this day and age.
The relationship between Aphra and her students, the confluence, drive the story, making it much more nuanced than I thought it would be going in. You wouldn't think a book that's primarily people researching magic would be this gripping. I love the magic system and the way Emrys wove Lovecraftian concepts with her own ideas.
There's not a lot I didn't find fascinating about this book. If I had to pick one gripe, it would be that there wasn't a big showdown at the end, though the end was pretty satisfying and felt truer to the rest of the book than a monster smackdown would have.
As I've said many times before, I like the concepts HPL created better than works by Old Howie himself. Ruthanna Emrys uses those concepts better than most. Four out of five stars.
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