We conclude our Spooktober series with a review of Fractured Tide, by Leslie Lutz, brought to you by Ears on the Odyssey contributor Natalie Marshall. Hang on and don’t forget to breathe–this is one creepy teen thriller!
Could you swim into the depths of the ocean, past light, past warmth, and past the possibility of help if you ever need it? For Tasia “Sia” Gianopoulos, this is the only way she can find true peace in Fractured Tide. Ever since her father went to jail and her mother pulled Sia out of school to help run the family’s dive charter business, she feels pulled in different directions. Things are tough, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to get easier any time soon. During a fairly routine dive exploration in a newly discovered wreckage site, something weird happens. Shortly afterward, all the electronics on Sia’s boat malfunction and a THING shows up. A huge, tentacled thing, like a squid from a sailor’s nightmare, pulls the ship apart and scatters the survivors into the waves.
Sia wakes up on the shore of an island, unsure of where she is or how she arrived. Soon she finds other survivors, including her little brother, and they begin to figure out how they can live until being rescued. But this island is not what it seems, the monster stalks the shore just waiting for one of them to enter the ocean, and they are not alone…
Even though fantasy makes up a huge portion of Young Adult/Teen fiction novels, it’s rare to find a truly good spooky creature thriller. Fractured Tide is all the more welcome for being one of those small number of books. Author Leslie Lutz leans into tropes familiar to anyone who has ever watched Lost or similar television shows, but gives them some great twists, none of which I’ll spoil for you here. In audiobook form, narrator Chloe Dolandis builds on Lutz’s deliberate pacing to keep the suspense ratcheting higher and higher as more secrets of the island, the wreck, and the monster are revealed.
The listener is made aware early on that the story is being told as a series of letters in a journal written from Sia to her incarcerated father, in the event that either she or the letters ever make it off the island. This allows Dolandis to play up Sia’s confusion and concern about the mysteries she is facing. Particularly well done in narration are the scenes where Sia is diving. Dolandis manages to convey both the sense of peace that Sia finds being deep underwater and the crushing claustrophobia that can strike at any time. Listeners who enjoy a story that’s genuinely creepy and horrific without being terribly gory or violent (sea monster notwithstanding,) will be well rewarded for tackling this thriller.
Special thanks to AudioFile Magazine for the opportunity to listen to and review Fractured Tide.
Fractured Tide, written by Leslie Lutz, read by Chloe Dolandis. 9 hours, 24 minutes. Blink, 2020.