In KC Jones’ debut novel, the apocalypse is nigh. Before the meteor shower, Beth and Mike were simply strangers brought together by chance. After a drunken one-night stand, the two wake up to discover that what they thought was a meteor shower left a slew of destruction behind — including otherworldly threats. Stranded on the beach with no car keys and a rising tide, the pair find themselves fighting for survival as horror after horror closes in on them.
Right off the bat, Jones hooks readers with an intriguing first chapter. His writing style lends itself to the ominous tone throughout the book, with small moments of humor peppered in. But largely, the story hinges on the steady increase of tension. Jones does well spreading information evenly without losing the suspense. He withholds information, using each reveal to pile on the stakes. His writing cleverly mirrors the slowly rising tide in the story.
Jones’ decision to write from both Beth and Mike’s POVs also strengthens the story. Naturally, readers get a sense of each character’s personality and how it affects their responses to everything that’s happening. As they assess and work through each obstacle, readers gain more and more insight into each character. One thing that stood out for me is how Jones used Mike’s film experience to sprinkle in tidbits of story structure without ever really giving too much away. Another aspect I was also glad to see work in Jones’ favor is that neither Beth nor Mike is especially optimistic. Given the impossible circumstances, they’re realistic about their potential fates, but they aren’t entirely without hope.
Black Tide is the perfect choice for horror fans searching for their next read. It makes a great summer read and one for the spooky season. Jones makes full use of his beach setting, creating a palpable sense of claustrophobia that’s eerie and unsettling. The included gore is visceral but never gratuitous. Jones weaves in equally punny and self-deprecating humor that offers many laugh-out-loud moments. He answers major questions through Beth and Mike without making them all-knowing, leaving just enough information to keep readers satisfied and reiterate that, like Beth and Mike, they won’t ever fully know or understand the truth. It’s a well-paced story filled with suspense and a build-up that keeps readers on edge and wanting more.
Black Tide releases on May 31. Pre-order your copy here.