One winter’s afternoon, voice coach Sonia opens the door of her beautiful riverside home to fifteen-year-old Jez, the nephew of a family friend. He’s come to borrow some music. Sonia invites him in and soon decides that she isn’t going to let him leave. As Sonia’s desire to keep Jez hidden and protected from the outside world becomes all the more overpowering, she is haunted by memories of an intense teenage relationship, which gradually reveal a terrifying truth. The River House, Sonia’s home since childhood, holds secrets within its walls. And outside, on the shores of the Thames, new ones are coming in on the tide…

I came across Tideline by Penny Hancock completely by accident, in all honesty I hadn’t planned to read it, and had it not been for twitter I wouldn’t have. I remember I was in the middle of reading Finders Keepers [Review] by Belinda Bauer when I noticed @keithbwalters and @alice_murphy from Simon & Schuster raving about the book. I wasn’t on the lookout for another January title – I have more than enough – but when Alice and Dawn offered me the chance to read it I simply couldn’t refuse!

Tideline is a dark and enveloping psychological thriller that will hook you from the very first page and keep you captive until the final early morning tide of an old and well-documented river is but a distant memory. I don’t think I can remember reading a book where the main protagonist had such an effect on me literally moments after beginning a book. I distinctly remember having to put the book down after ten pages to take stock of who Sonia was, this really is powerful stuff. Sonia frightened me, psychologically. It was clearly evident this was a woman who had seen better days – mentally – and had arrived in a place where her life was anything but ordinary. Scarred and carrying an inordinate amount of baggage Tideline is a tale of one woman’s fight to keep hold of the past but live in the present, very rarely do they mix without consequences and this book is no different.

Sonia drives this book. Tideline is written – for the most part – in the first person, through her eyes. We follow her highs and lows, her decision making, her doubts, her anxiety and lies – for there are many – all said and done in the name of love and infatuation. This is undoubtedly Sonia’s story.

When Jez Mahfoud arrives at the River House to borrow a rare album from Sonia’s husband, I’m convinced – as a reader – Sonia initially had no intention of keeping the teenager captive. However, within minutes of his arrival she hatches a plan to keep him locked away. It’s clear she is capable of making decisions, what is questionable is her unhinged thought process. She is infatuated with the youngster, or is she? We aren’t quite sure why she wants to keep him hidden away in a Greenwich river front property but as the book develops it becomes clear why.

Penny Hancock

Penny Hancock

Tideline is a great example of how one decision – no matter how big or small – can change the course of one’s life and how it affects others. Sonia spends most of her time reacting to the smallest of events and when things don’t quite go to plan she has to think on her feet and change her plans, ensuring his abduction remains a mystery. I remember sitting back – more than once – wondering where on earth Hancock was going to take this storyline but with every turn of the page she somehow manages –effortlessly I may add – to take the book forward.

This is a complex and multi layered tale and is as unpredictable and sweeping as the dangerous currents found in the River Thames. An immersive thriller, Tideline entertains and works on so many levels and it’s hard to believe that this is Hancock’s authorial debut. Frankly it’s astonishing and it reminds me of last year’s smash hit from SJ Watson called Before I Go to Sleep [Review]. With a number of twists and turns along the way, Tideline is one book not to be missed and although far too early to begin talking about the book of the year, January is shaping up to be a monumental and competitive month, a terrific way to kick start a new year. If you’re a fan of the psychological thriller then I urge you to pick up this title, Tideline is going to be big in 2012 and could possibly sweep all other pretenders aside; you can take that to the river bank.

Published by Simon & Schuster, Tideline is available in Hardback & Kindle.

352 Pages — ISBN-10: 1849837686 — ISBN-13: 978-1849837682

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2 Responses to “Tideline by Penny Hancock – Book Review”

  1. […] a different point of view have a look at Milo’s Rambles or Curiosity Killed the […]

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