The problem with Lovecraft Mythos stories, and the same thing that I tend to love about them, is that they are known to dive deeply into the mythos and alienate readers who haven’t spent their lifetimes obsessing about some obscure author from the 1920’s. It makes the stories excellent for those types of readers and keeps everyone else from even picking up the title
That’s not the case with Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys. The story uses the magic, race, and creatures of Lovecraft’s mythos to tell a story that doesn’t require foreknowledge. To that point, though, having that foreknowledge is rewarded with small nods and subtle hints as the story progresses.
This book uses the Sherlock/Watson method of telling the story, but does it almost better than even Doyle’s heroes in that it allows the reader to decide if they are the Sherlock or the Watson. The Sherlocks all know what’s coming when the protagonist, Aphra, heads home or discusses the Yith, but the Watsons aren’t left in the dark, as they are pulled along in the adventure and explained what’s going on as they see it for the first time. And none of those explanations come across as heavy-handed narration or as treating the reader as an idiot. Their just seeing it all for the first time, and get to experience the excitement, fear, and dread as if they were actually there.
Aphra’s story is one of race, subjugation, and legacy as she tries to decide what’s to come for her and her people after the Americans destroyed most of Innsmouth and threw the survivors in prison camps. Their story purposefully mirrors that of Asian-Americans during the second World War while also adding an element of the supernatural. While mirroring that horrible tragedy that the government placed on its own people, it also illustrates it by Aphra’s finding family in some of the imprisoned through mutual hardships while also pairing them all up with the very government that sought to ruin them.
Winter Tide has everything, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as both a fan of history and a fan of Lovecraft. 5 out of 5 stars!