A beautiful debut novel set in the Outer Hebrides, The House Between Tides strips back layers of the past to reveal a dark mystery. In the present day, Hetty Deveraux returns to the family home of Muirlan House on a remote Hebridean island estate following the untimely death of her parents. Torn between selling the house and turning it into a hotel, Hetty undertakes urgent repairs, accidentally uncovering human remains.
Who has been lying beneath the floorboards for a century? Were they murdered? Through diaries and letters she finds, Hetty discovers that the house was occupied at the turn of the century by distant relative Beatrice Blake, a young aristocratic woman recently married to renowned naturalist and painter, Theodore Blake. With socialist and suffragist leanings Beatrice is soon in conflict with her autocratic new husband, who is distant, and wrapped up in Cameron, a young man from the island.
As Beatrice is also drawn to Cameron, life for them becomes dangerous, sparking a chain of events that will change many lives, leaving Hetty to assemble the jigsaw of clues piece by piece one hundred years later, as she obsessively chases the truth.
In The House Between Tides, author Sarah Maine uses her skills as a storyteller to create an utterly compelling historical mystery set in a haunting and beautifully evoked location.
'Last night, debut author Maine dreamed of a contemporary spin on classic Gothic tropes. Orphan Hetty Deveraux has inherited a crumbling, wind-battered mansion on a remote Muirland Island in western Scotland, “on the edge of the world.” The day she arrives to inspect her new property, however, local assessor James Cameron has found a skeleton beneath the floorboards. Who is it, and how long has it been there? Abandoned since the war, the house was the refuge of Theo Blake, a Turner-esque painter-turned-mad recluse and a distant relative of Hetty's. At loose ends since the deaths of her parents, Hetty hopes restoring the house will serve as a new beginning. Meanwhile, in 1910, Theo Blake brings his new bride to Muirland House, whose landscapes have inspired some of his most famous paintings. Maine skillfully balances a Daphne du Maurier atmosphere with a Barbara Vine-like psychological mystery as she guides the reader back and forth on these storylines. The two narrative threads are united by the theme of conservation versus exploitation: Muirland is a habitat for several species of rare birds, threatened in the 1910 plot by Blake's determination to kill and mount them for his collection and in the 2010 story by Hetty's half-formed plans to transform Muirland House into a luxury hotel. Local man Cameron wants to see the island preserved as “a precious place, wild and unspoiled, a sanctuary for more than just the birds.” The setting emerges as the strongest personality in this compelling story, evoking passion in the characters as fierce as the storms which always lurk on the horizon. A debut historical thriller which deftly blends classic suspense with modern themes.' Kirkus
'Muirlan Island in Scotland's Outer Hebrides provides the sensuous setting for British author Maine's impressive debut, which charts the parallel quests of two women a century apart. […] Vivid descriptions of the island's landscape and weather enhance this beautifully crafted novel.' Publisher's Weekly
'There is an echo of Daphne du Maurier's Rebeca in Sarah Maine's appealing debut noel, when human remains are found beneath the floorboards of a derelict mansion on a Scottish island… a highly readable debut.' Independent
'A tremendous accomplishment. So assured, so well-judged, and with such an involving story to tell, this might be the author's fifth or sixth novel, not her first. A literary star is born!' Ronald Frame, author of The Lantern Bearers and Havisham