Winter Tide (Review) by Ruthanna Emrys

Let me be honest, not only did I score an e-ARC but I’ve been looking forward to this book since The Litany of Earth. It’s rare for me to fall so in love with books that I want to both devour them in one go and savour them over a span of days like chocolate. So, with that in mind, I originally read this is one day but am now, thanks to the audiobook, slowly appreciating all the subtle nuances I might have missed.

Winter Tide is gorgeous. It’s the cosmology of Lovecraft without the nastiness (aka the racism, the bigotry and other ideas which sadly taint a stunning literary universe). Indeed, identity, culture and otherness, they’re all front and centre; Aphra isn’t a ‘Person of the Air’, she’s got the sea running in her blood and, after her transformation, will live in the Deep Once cities until the sun burns out. It’s not forever but it’s still billions of years. The language is so Lovecraftian but it’s a gentle kind of esoteric, it doesn’t put you off but instead makes you ponder words and their meaning. At the same time, she’s still recovering from her people’s incarceration and genocide in camps later reused for the internment of the Japanese. This leads her into the lives of the Koto family with her brother, Caleb, as her only remaining kin on land. Oh and it’s left her scarred, mentally, as such a traumatic experience is wont to do. It’s even more relevant, now, for example than I think even the author thought it would be.

The story does kick off from Litany, as well as some mentions to the short story (which you should so go and read. Now. I’ll wait.) but the Tor short is essentially a prologue to a much bigger arc. Searching after old magics and fears Russians are using body-switching as the next weapon in a magical cold war, Aphra, her government minder and Neko, her adopted Japanese sister, return to Innsmouth and Miskatonic University. Both are, of course, important locations in the world of Lovecraft and they are eerie in the extreme. It feels odd to be somewhere so familiar but so strange, a place where you can study folklore and other subjects which are literal fusions of magic with physical sciences.

Occasionally, I was thrown by the odd flashback (especially in audio where the demarcation between scenes is just absent). Along the way, Aphra encounters new friends and old family. It does feel a tad deus ex machina to encounter not only a Yith but also transformed members of Aphra’s own people, now living in the depths below Innsmouth. Yet the idea of her faith, Aeonism, being openly worshipped with its own temples and rituals, is gorgeous and transforms the book from a simple mystery with magical overtones to a true Lovecraft mythos novel, reimagined for a new era but enduring never the less.

Winter Tide, Book One of The Innsmouth Legacy, is available now in ebook, print and audio from all the usual places. You can also follow the author on Twitter and you totally should.

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The January Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder, coupled with the depressive side of bipolar and a slight issue when it comes to a loss of my beloved canine mobility aid, means January is sucking hard. There never seems to be enough cash lying around (and I just bulk bought cat food for my feline overlords). Said cats are trying to compensate with ALL THE LOVE but it’s not quite enough to tip the tide. Oh and apparently it’s going to snow tomorrow.

No. Just no. At least, if it does snow, I have a couple of books to read, good books and a comfy sofa on which to sit.

Sadly the sunrise is something I’m seeing little off, it’s usually dark for most of my commute into the city. However, when I do see them, they’ve been stunning. I usually sit in the cab of the bus, right behind the door which affords me stellar views of the A47 (/sarcasm).

And, oh fucking gods, please don’t snow.

Understand I don’t hate snow per se, I just hate what it does to my mobility, specifically in the frozen and slush stages. I have zero issues with walking while it is snowing and, in fact, quite enjoy it. It’s the best time to go to the supermarket, in fact, as everyone else is not there.

I’m neither properly depressed nor manic at the moment, but I am still miserable. I don’t want to go into supermarkets (because it’s all too easy to spend money) and I certainly don’t want to go out after dark. Even putting a letter in the post was too much this morning (so I gave it to the postwoman as she brought me a Lakeland catalogue). I’m able to get coffee and go into the city but that’s about it.

However I’m also trying to meal plan and use up the contents of my freezer, I’m also trying to cook a meal a day and eat lots of soup. Soup is warm and filling and the garage sells nice baguettes that are right next to the bit where I stand to get my coffee. If it does snow, I know I have gyoza and bread, leftovers from tonight, various meat stuffs and enough to make spag bol for the weekend.

January, by its sheer definition, just seems to make everything harder. I can’t concentrate (though that could just be because I’m watching Homeland which requires it.) I need to go to Zumba but the idea of being in a room of people with loud music after dark just makes me want to hide behind my sofa with Isis. This also means I can’t settle on a project, even though I have a new short story on the front burner. I just lack the motivation to work on it, or anything else. I’m waking up but from then on, the days just drag, then it gets dark and cold … Rinse and repeat.

At least, if I go into town and top up my Nero card, I’ll have coffee and a comfy seat that doesn’t keep moving (my desk chair is now making death-rattles and sinking every time I sit down in it). Warmth, a croissant and WiFi is a bonus. I just feel lost, uninspired and very mundane which means spending a lot of time just surfing the internet and watching TV shows on Netflix. I know all this is a passing thing and it will get better. Just hugging Bramble the other day did me wonders, ditto the small puppy I fussed as I waited for the bus. Watching Gismo and D size themselves up is also entertaining (and D is currently losing the war).

New Dog would help right now but it’s not going to happen on my schedule, it’ll happen on Guide Dogs’ (which also explains why today sucked because they called me and, for two glorious seconds until I saw it was their main switchboard number, I thought it was THE call, even though I know better). No one does matching visits in January because there aren’t any dogs (another strike against the month IMHO).

Yeah, I wish I could say positive things but I can’t. I’m going to take an eARC and curl up on the couch with some music on then go to bed, it’s all I can do until this weather decides if it’s going to be awful or not.

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