Page Count 280
Publication date May 2022
Publisher Tor Nightfire
-It was just another day at the beach. And then the world ended.
Mike and Beth didn’t know each other existed before the night of the meteor shower. A melancholy film producer and a house sitter barely scraping by, chance made them neighbors, a bottle of champagne brought them together, and a shared need for human connection sparked something more.
After a drunken and desperate one-night-stand, the two strangers awake to discover a surprise astronomical event has left widespread destruction in its wake. But the cosmic lightshow was only a part of something much bigger, and far more terrifying. When a set of lost car keys leaves them stranded on an empty stretch of Oregon coast, when their emergency calls go unanswered and inhuman screams echo from the dunes, when the rising tide reaches for the car and unspeakable horrors close in around them, these two self-destructive souls must find in each other the strength to overcome past pain and the fight to survive a nightmare of apocalyptic scale
Black Tide reeled me in at the first page, a beautifully written interpretation of the phrase ‘human car crash’ welcomed me into the my first experience of KC Jones.
Unfortunately the concentration didn’t last long. Whilst I enjoyed the descriptive writing, especially in the nightmare sequences and creature creation, I began to flag quite early into the book. Something about it just wasn’t gripping me, I wasn’t feeling the tension I expected from an end-of-the-world style alien encounter.
Black Tide is written in first person, present tense from the perspective of Mike and Beth. This choice would usually create the tense atmosphere I expect in a horror, but to begin with Jones redirects our attention from the immediate peril too often to pause and have the characters consider what’s happening – sometimes for entire paragraphs. I’d have preferred their inner monologues to be a retrospective view rather than burst the bubble of suspense.
The first monstrous attack on Mike and Beth seemed to unfold slowly for this reason and their choices were quite bizarre. I can’t say I’d calmly walk toward an invisible entity that’s just cleaved a man in two! Especially for someone I’d only met the night before hand. Maybe I’m heartless but I’d definitely be running in the other direction.
As the story progresses there is a noticeable shift where the pacing of Jones writing hits the sweet spot and I found myself beginning to really enjoy the ride.
Over the course of the book I developed an investment in Mike and Beth, decided that I wanted to see them survive after all. Initially their apathetic attitude to life meant I wasnt particularly concerned.
Though having the loveable dog Jake meant I needed them to escape for his sake anyway, you can always tug my heart strings with a loyal animal, especially a dog.
Jones begins to drip little moments of hope into the storyline before tearing them away with brutal consequences, creating an emotional roller coaster. A surprising event toward the end reeled me in for the big finale and despite a rocky start I am very glad to have picked up Black Tide.
Reminiscent of The Mist, I recommend Black Tide to horror, dystopian and scifi fans. I will happily read more from KC Jones in future.