cover image The Mercy of the Tide

The Mercy of the Tide

Keith Rosson. Meerkat, $16.95 trade paper (294p) ISBN 978-0-9966262-4-8

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. Agent: Christopher Schelling, Selectric Artists. (Feb.)