When Claire Cooper was eight years old her mother mysteriously vanished during Hop-tu-naa, the
Manx Halloween. At fourteen, Claire is still struggling to come to terms with her disappearance when she’s befriended by a group of five teenagers who mark every Hop-tu-naa by performing dares. But Claire’s arrival begins to alter the group’s dynamic until one year a prank goes terribly wrong, changing all their futures and tearing the friends apart.
Six years later, one of the friends is killed on Hop-tu-naa in an apparent accident. But Claire, now a police officer, has her doubts. Is a single footprint found near the body a deliberate taunt?
As another Hop-tu-naa dawns, bringing with it another death and another footprint, Claire becomes convinced that somebody is seeking vengeance. But who? And which of the friends might be next? If she’s to stop a killer and unlock the dark secrets of her past, Claire must confront her deepest fears, before it’s too late.
The author of the bestselling SAFE HOUSE returns to the Isle of Man with a thriller that will keep you up all night.
Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy for review.
I have sourced Wikipedia for the following explanation:
Hop-tu-Naa is a Celtic festival celebrated in the Isle of Man on 31 October. Predating Halloween, it is the celebration of the original New Year’s Eve.
Dark Tides features Hop-tu-Naa extensively so it is very important to understand that Hop-tu-Naa is NOT Halloween. It is celebrated on 31st October and there appears to be a tradition of kids dressing up and visiting houses for treats (and there appears to be an expectation that you have to perform a song or ‘turn’ to be rewarded with your treat). BUT IT IS NOT HALLOWEEN.
What Hop-tu-Naa does provide is an annual creepy evening where dark deeds are done – perfect for a murder story where victims are being picked off once per year in what MAY be retribution for a prank that went badly wrong.
Dark Tides is the perfect novel for a winter night’s reading: it was atmospheric and exciting and I don’t think that I would have engaged in quite the same way had I been on a sunny beach.
The story plays out over a number of years but Chris Ewan keeps the pace going and handles the jumps in time very nicely. Moving through the years, bringing the reader up to date on the key events that impact upon our heroine (Claire) so we can pick up the tale as Hop-tu-Naa approaches again.
One feature of the book that I did enjoy was that (on occasion) we get an insight into the killer’s thoughts as they speculated on the likely outcome of their forthcoming murderous attempts.
The killer’s identity remains shrouded in mystery throughout and the reader will enjoy trying to second guess who the killer may be (I had several guesses as the story unfolded). It is also fun speculating who the next victim may be.
I find that Chris Ewan writes with a very readable style. He builds strong characters that I care about – it is not uncommon for me to finish a story and not be able to remember the name of the lead character. Not so with Dark Tides, I was hooked and I got very caught up in the events.
I don’t normally rate books but I will on this occasion – 5 stars for Dark Tides, I loved it.