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Publisher's Summary

After attacking Devil's Reef in 1928, the US government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god, Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.

The government that stole Aphra's life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant and hasten the end of the human race. Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.

©2017 Ruthanna Emrys (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Slow burner

This book is a lot slower than the normal scifi I listen to, and narrated by a female (also rare for me for some reason).

But I really enjoyed it and eagerly await the next in the series.

I'd recommend it if you're interested in Lovecraftian monsters and locations though it is a novel and not much like Lovecraft literature. The imagery is well written and evokes things properly through the senses.

But I also want to thank the narrator for doing possibly the best reading I've ever heard. It was absolutely flawless.

My only gripe for the book itself is that it was a little too slow at times and lost steam at the end. Still, it wrapped things up nicely which is something so many authors refuse or neglect to do - and given everything else I like about the book it's easily forgiven.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephanie
  • Germantown, OH, United States
  • 04-09-17

Magic, Cold War history, family, and survival

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

"Winter Tide" is a gripping mystery woven through with magic, cosmic wonder, and the taste of deep time. It is also a beautifully written meditation on surviving atrocity, creating family, and risking love in the face of mortality.


Just a few years after the end of WWII, US/USSR tensions are building and there are rumors that the Russians have acquired dangerous magical knowledge. The FBI asks Aphra Marsh for her help in their investigation. Though she has every reason to refuse to help the government that destroyed her home and family, there are equally compelling ones to leave San Francisco and her beloved adopted family the Kotos, with whom she survived the US internment camps, and go back east to Miskatonic University with Agent Spector.


"Winter Tide" is set in a Lovecraftian world, replete with books of ancient lore, fish people, godlike aliens, and cycles of life beyond human comprehension, but you don't have to have more than a passing cultural familiarity with Lovecraft's Mythos in order to be pulled into this book. Emrys' Miskatonic University and Innsmouth feel real and solid, her magical system well-thought out, her theology compelling and deeply felt. Her characters, alien and several flavors of human, are real people with fascinating back stories and complex motivations.


I also strongly recommend this book for long-time Lovecraftians like me. Emry's world-building is excellent, deepening our understanding of familiar characters and locations while finding many interesting new corners to explore. For example, Miskatonic feels like a real university with real students (complete with flighty undergraduates) instead of a convenient repository for forbidden tombs and statuary (and scholars prone to syncope). If you love the Mythos but are troubled by Lovecraft's naked bigotry, you will love the effortless (and entirely non-preachy) way she turns all that on its head, allowing us to live inside the heads of people, human and otherwise, that Lovecraft drew as monsters.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Winter Tide?

The Winter Tide on the beach, in the face of terrible danger to some of the participants. Such beautiful love and courage.

What does Gabra Zackman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I wouldn't love this book less if I had read instead of listening to it, but the narration was perfect. No off notes at all, just effortless storytelling. Each character's voice was distinct and consistent but none were stereotypical either. She handled the unusual names and vocabulary well too.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Great Premise, Great World...Mediocre Story

What I appreciate about the book is the respect for Lovecraft, the details of the world, the premise of the book and its take on racism, by paralleling the Japanese experience with Innsmouth. Unfortunately, the plot is very slow/non-existent, the characters are maddening apart form the lead character, and the ending is belaboured. The narrator's version of Japanese characters is cringeworthy. Very disappointing read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Beautiful, if a little unfocused

This book was both beautifully narrated and written. I really like what the author does with the Lovecraft mythos, and I think the decisions she makes throughout either to bolster or subvert that mythos are really effective.

However, I think the plot meanders a bit too much, and I found myself getting impatient with it about 3/4 of the way through.
I still enjoyed it, and will probably read the recently published sequel, but I certainly think this book could have done with a couple fewer scenes and a couple fewer characters.

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An exceptional and inspiring work.

This is now by far my favorite venture into the worlds inspired by Lovecraft.
I have never felt particularly drawn to Lovecraft setting roleplaying games about investigators drawing too close to dark truths that drive them mad. But this wonderfully different take on the setting inspires me to perhaps seek out or run my own games using this book as my muse.

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Like secrets whispered in the winter

I feel straight into this book, and never wanted to crawl back out. The world and characters are so interesting and immersive that I almost forgot there was a plot going on too. The tone of the story is a little hushed and quiet. It felt like someone telling me a secret. And the narrator! The voices that she lends to the characters are perfect, especially for the main character Afra. The narration felt so intimate it was almost like reading a diary.

The story does take a little while to really get to a conflict style plot, but I never minded. I could've happily listened to twice the length in this world. I was so thrilled to see the sequel had the same narrator. You don't have to know a thing about Cthulu mythos to enjoy this book. I only know the vaguest bits from pop culture and I was fascinated and never felt like I didn't know something I needed to.

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Nice change of perspective

I really liked the change in point of view. I was never comfortable with the level of casual racism in most mythos books. It was a pleasure to get a well done story without a surplus of lantern jawed lol.

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Overrated on a Cosmic Scale

I genuinely disliked this novel and feel distinctly cheated that it is so overhyped in every review I read online.The idea behind this novel is a genuine breakthrough for a genre that has many detractors pointing to the wild racism of Lovecraft and asking if he deserves to be remembered fondly for his literary contributions. Emrys deserves full credit for creating an amazing hook for this novel. Reviewers are correct to praise the radical viewpoint this work presents and how this turns the standard idea of a Lovecraftian protagonist on its head but fail to note that once you get past this unique idea there is very little worth remembering about this novel.

The deep ones are presented as just another ethnic group that has been horribly mistreated by White America. The nuances of their culture are explored and they are presented as just another branch of humans, with a tendency towards scaly skin and a disposition for salty water and seafood. Deep One ancestors swim out from Devil’s Reef to complain about the blood libel (seriously!) that resulted in the destruction of Innsmouth.

Undoubtedly, ghouls are simply the victims of an unsavory eating disorder.

Emrys characters rub shoulders with the fantastic denizens of Lovecraft’s stories and consistently walk away sanity intact as the cosmic void is rendered toothless since its denizens are not evil but simply misunderstood.

That’s the problem. Once the inhuman are rendered human there is very little left to write about. The protagonists spend their days scouring the stacks at Miskatonic University for clues while dealing with overt discrimination in the face of their differences. By night they retire to their chambers and cast magical workings that better allow them to discuss their feelings with each other (again, seriously!). Emrys has found a way to remove the cosmic horror from Lovecraft's universe and leaves us with a dull coffee klatch that stare boldly into the now toothless void. To its credit, the void shrugs back at them before inviting them to tea.

Emrys continues the ongoing trend of cashing in on Lovecraft with mediocre works that cite a few mythos deities before name dropping the Necronomicon and tentacles.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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excellent interpretation of Lovecraft

Would listen again. Good narration with excellent story and setting. The characters and modern take on Lovecraft from more humane but no less awed eyes is phenomenal.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A brilliant way to turn Lovecraft on his head.

I first became interested in this story through the podcast recording of The Litany of Earth, which was excellent and engaging. This book took the germ of an idea and fleshed of out into something more. I love how the minds of all of the "monsters" carry across and I believe the book does a fantastic job of turning the grey mists of Lovecraft into something multi - dimensional without losing the clammy cold of New England.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • R. Maines
  • 04-15-17

Love it.

I really enjoyed 'The Litany of Earth' by the same author and have been looking forward to this 'book' for months. A low key story set in a Lovecraftian universe, it rattles along to a satisfying conclusion. I loved the setting and the characters.

The narration was excellent as well.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-10-17

Inspired

Interested in mysteries? The terrifyingly vast cosmos? Feminism in the past and present? Just good stories? You'll love it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful