cover image Dark Tides

Dark Tides

Philippa Gregory. Atria, $28 (480p) ISBN 978-1-5011-8718-6

A mother and daughter’s lives are disrupted by two visitors in the plodding second volume of Gregory’s Fairmile series (after Tidelands). Alinor Reekie and her daughter, Alys Stoney, live quietly as wharf owners in 1670 London. Alinor refuses to believe the news that her physician son, Rob, has died in Venice, based on what she gleans from her “sight,” which allows her to feel the truth of a given situation. Then Sir James Avery, who’d abandoned Alinor two decades earlier, shows up and declares his wish to marry her and legitimize the child he insists she bore him, which Alinor denies. After Rob’s wife, Livia, a master manipulator, arrives with their infant son, she earns sympathy from Alys, but Alinor and Alys’s daughter, Sarah, are suspicious. Desperate to save her family from heartache, Alinor sends Sarah to Venice to learn the truth about Livia and the circumstances of Rob’s alleged death. Gregory’s talent for evoking time and place is on full display, but the plot never picks up steam. Though Livia tells Alys, “I am far more interesting than honest,” Gregory fails to show it. Readers who enjoyed Tidelands will be disappointed to find Alinor relegated to a minor role and Alys reduced to a dupe. With any luck, Gregory will find her form next time out. Agent: Zahra Glibbery, Levon Publishing. (Nov.)