Song Beneath the Tides

Song Beneath the Tides

Song Beneath the Tides
Beverley Birch

Guppy Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781913101077

Ally arrives from England with her brothers to stay for a month in Africa - weeks of running wild on an unspoiled, untamed coast amid mangrove creeks, vast white sandy beaches, coral reefs and warm seas. But on their first walk through the forest to the beach, Ally is swamped by a sense of an unseen presence close to her - of being spoken to. The feeling increases as a local teenager, Leli enthusiastically sweeps her into the world of his village and their offshore island (Kisiri - the place of secrets). It's the beginning of a friendship that swiftly becomes an intense, overwhelming bond between them. Kisiri is a place of local legend, protected and feared: village youngsters dare each other to go there. Village elders forbid it. Ally and Leli feel drawn to it, and land on its shores. At once Ally feels again that invisible presence, a whispered voice. But fear can change things, divide people. The bond between Ally and Leli feels unbreakable. But suddenly everything, everyone, conspires to drive a wedge between them. She is, after all, an outsider - a visitor, no more. Only weeks away, she will leave for England, simply walk away, never to return, how can she possibly share, or help?

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Song Beneath the Tides5/5

Song Beneath the Tides

Beverley Birch

Review

Ally is on the holiday of a lifetime with her brothers in Africa. With her Aunt distracted by her workload as a doctor, Ally and her brothers can run free along the wild and stunning coastline. They quickly make friends with some local children and soon find themselves drawn in by the local folklore and customs and the modern world that clashes with them.

Ally, in particular, is drawn to local boy, Leli, and an intense bond develops between them. Fearing for the future of Kisiri, a local Island swathed in legend and revered by locals, Ally and Leli set out on a dangerous mission to protect the island and its heritage. However, Ally's status as a foreigner and outsider hinder her attempts to help and, as the locals become increasingly alarmed by a new tourist development, matters rush to a terrifying conclusion.

This is a story that's rich with history, folklore and mysticism. As a reader you are swept away by the evocative language and the brutal descriptions of threats to an established and sacred way of life. Ally and Leli's story alternates with a historical narrative of Portuguese invaders and the comparisons between the stories and links to local legends are cleverly entwined.

This is a stunning and sophisticated combination of romance and mystery and is sure to be devoured by teenagers and adults alike.

320 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian

Reviewed by: Clare Wilkins