Riptide, Oregon, 1983. A sleepy coastal town, where crime usually consists of underage drinking down at a Wolf Point bonfire. But then strange things start happening: a human skeleton is unearthed in a local park and mutilated animals begin appearing, seemingly sacrificed, on the town's beaches. The Mercy of the Tide follows four people drawn irrevocably together by a recent tragedy as they do their best to reclaim their lives - leading them all to a discovery that will change them and their town forever. At the heart of the story are Sam Finster, a senior in high school mourning the death of his mother, and his sister Trina, a nine-year-old deaf girl who denies her grief by dreaming of a nuclear apocalypse as Cold War tensions rise. Meanwhile, Sheriff Dave Dobbs and Deputy Nick Hayslip must try to put their own sorrows aside to figure out who, or what, is wreaking havoc on their once-idyllic town. Keith Rosson paints outside the typical genre lines with his brilliant debut novel. It is a gorgeously written book that merges the sly wonder of magical realism and alternate history with the depth and characterization of literary fiction.
- NPR Books | Jason Heller - "Rosson is a talent to be watched, and Riptide is one of the most immersive fictional settings in recent memory."
- Publisher's Weekly (starred review) - "A striking novel"
- Foreword Reviews (4/4 hearts) - "An exquisitely honed, beautifully written novel."
Blending horror and alternate history, this striking first novel takes its time familiarizing readers with the small seacoast town of Riptide, Ore. It's late 1983, and the U.S. and Russia seem to be sliding toward nuclear Armageddon. At least that's what nine-year-old Trina Finster believes, focusing on politics partly to distract herself from sorrow over her mother's death. Her brother, Sam, and her father are also struggling with personal grief, as are town sheriff Dave Dobbs and excruciatingly haunted deputy Nick Hayslip. When they start finding the mutilated corpses of animals, they fear that a vicious shape-shifting monster out of local Native American legend, the tah-kee-na-the, has reappeared to feed on sorrow and serve as a harbinger of more awful events to come. Considering the international situation described in the novel, readers are left uncertain whether any of the characters will survive in the long run. What is clear, though, is that Rosson has a real gift for vivid description and for creating anguished characters who deserve a faint glimmer of hope.