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Fifteen years ago, Dave Quinn swam out into the winter ocean to save two drowning girls -- identical twin sisters. He was only able to save one.Now, years later, he meets Anne, a struggling artist from Canada. He has no idea that she is the child he saved so long ago. And he has no idea that Elinor, the long-dead sister he couldn't save, has come with her...

346 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1997

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About the author

James P. Blaylock

90 books257 followers
James Paul Blaylock is an American fantasy author. He is noted for his distinctive style. He writes in a humorous way: His characters never walk, they clump along, or when someone complains (in a flying machine) that flight is impossible, the other characters agree and show him why he's right.

He was born in Long Beach, California; studied English at California State University, Fullerton, receiving an M.A. in 1974; and lives in Orange, California, teaching creative writing at Chapman University. Many of his books are set in Orange County, California, and can more specifically be termed "fabulism" — that is, fantastic things happen in our present-day world, rather than in traditional fantasy, where the setting is often some other world. His works have also been categorized as magic realism.

He and his friends Tim Powers and K.W. Jeter were mentored by Philip K. Dick. Along with Powers he invented the poet William Ashbless. Blaylock and Powers have often collaborated with each other on writing stories, including The Better Boy, On Pirates, and The William Ashbless Memorial Cookbook.

Blaylock is also currently director of the Creative Writing Conservatory at the Orange County High School of the Arts, where Powers is Writer in Residence.

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5 stars
37 (16%)
4 stars
94 (41%)
3 stars
75 (33%)
2 stars
14 (6%)
1 star
6 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews
Profile Image for Fantasy Literature.
3,226 reviews160 followers
July 14, 2013
I was disappointed in Winter Tides, though it's probably not fair to blame James P. Blaylock for my disappointment. It's not his fault the cover copy doesn't accurately describe the novel's actual subject matter. It's also not his fault I'm a big enough ballad geek that when I see the words "Anne," "Elinor," "sisters," and "drowning" in the same sentence, I immediately think of "The Cruel Sister," a heartbreaking ballad of love and sisterly betrayal. Between the cover copy and a ballad reference that may or may not have been intentional, I led myself to expect a ghost story and a love story. Here's the cover copy, for what it's worth:

Fifteen years ago, on a deserted California beach, Dave Quinn swam out into the winter ocean to save two drowning girls — identical twin sisters. He was only able to save one. Now, years later, he meets Anne... Read More:
11 reviews
August 11, 2013
The book starts off slow and clumsy, but wow am I glad I stuck with it! By the end I couldn't put it down. I was invested in many of the characters, but mostly the whack-job psycho. Set in modern day Southern California, with blandly normal people leading blandly normal lives awakening to very abnormal events around them, the book has a great sense of pacing and suspense.

Dark, creepy, and weird.
Profile Image for Nathan.
Author 51 books74 followers
July 18, 2008
A solid, spooky ghost story, haunted by regret, and tinted with the cold, salt-spray of winter surfing the California coast. I'm a sucker for a good ghost story, and few novels have done it better than this. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Patrick Barry.
909 reviews7 followers
July 11, 2018
This is my favorite Blaylock novel that I've read so far. A man who was able to save a young girl from drowning years later meets the girl and the twin sister he was unable to save. The girl and her rescuer begin a romance. As can be assumed in a horror novel, the sister is not exactly thrilled by this. She inspires an already odd character on to arson kidnapping and murder. I enjoyed this novel.
466 reviews1 follower
November 17, 2020
Old school creepy/haunting. A nice return to an author I haven’t revisited in awhile.
Profile Image for Travis.
1,876 reviews26 followers
November 22, 2016
Well, I have to say, this definitely wasn't my kind of book. It was ok, but there was just too much psycho nutty guy in it for my tastes. It's bad enough to hear that kind of stuff on the news, I don't want to read that kind of stuff in the stories I read for fun. Take out all the batsh*t crazy sh*t this guy was doing, and perhaps the story could garner another star or two. I know, not everyone will agree, and folks who like that sort of thing will likely tell me I'm and that's fine, I have no problem with that, I just don't like that kind of thing, and although the premace was definitely worth building on, the story kept getting interrupted for me by the absolutely insane crap that makes no sense to anyone. (Yes, I know, it happens, and fiction needs it too). If you like that sort of thing, you'll love this book. For me though, it just spoiled the reading, and made the story way less enjoyable. Like I say though, it was ok, and while I'd not recommend it as something to pass the time if you're looking for a good fun story, it probably would appeal to those who like dark storylines and/or off their rocker characters who make no sense to anyone but themselves. I don't demand that a story be all rosy and upbeat, but I have never liked the whole let's make a story out of some insane psychopath who pretty much does whatever the hell he wants for the entire story, and never really contributes anything to the story as a whole thing. If you remove the insane character, the book could still have stood on it's own. (changed no doubt, and considerably less dark), but it could still stand. But I know, I'm the reader, and I read what the authors write, and it's really not my task to direct the story, I just felt that with this one, a lot of what took place wasn't necessary other than to build up this insane moron, who after all that, simply poofed out at the end with no real resolution other than offing himself in a rather stupidendusly idiotic manner. If you're going to go through all that trouble to build up this untouchable image, only to have him waste himself in the most rediculus way possible, then I guess I just don't see the point. Anyway, enough with my view of the plotlines.
If you like dark sudo-mystery stories, then you'll probably enjoy this one, but for me, it was just too much dark heaped with unnecessary fluff to be enjoyed fully.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jeremiah Genest.
168 reviews2 followers
December 26, 2008
Contemporary supernatural horror from one of the best in that game. When surfer Dave Quinn saved a young girl from the sea, her twin sister eluded him and drowned. Now, 15 years later, Dave still lives in Huntington Beach, Calif., where he builds scenery for a theater warehouse owned by the rich Earl Dalton--this despite frequent clashes with Earl's creepy eldest son Edmund, whose interests include black magic, snuff movies, and defrauding Earl of various properties. The warehouse's latest employee is artist Anne Morris, whom Dave recognizes as the girl he saved. Anne's dead sister Elinor--a ghostly presence ever since she drowned--crafted a disturbing set of dolls and paintings, which Anne has kept. Edmund discovers the paintings and dolls and assumes they're Anne's; later, he's possessed by Elinor, discovers a secret entrance into Anne's apartment, and uses Elinor's dolls to set fires. Eventually, enraged by the growing closeness between Anne and Dave, and inspired by the evil Elinor, Edmund embarks on a campaign of arson, murder, kidnapping, and torture.
Profile Image for Riana.
135 reviews3 followers
February 13, 2014
Anne Morris leaves her home in Victoria, Canada, and hopes to make a new beginning. Perhaps even put the past behind her. She feels drawn to Hunting Beach, which is no surprise, as this is the very place where her sister died years ago. It is a surprise, however, when she meets the man who saved her on that cloudy, rainy day from drowning, but couldn’t save her sister. Nor did she expect to find a stalking psychopath who claims to have a spiritual connection with her sister – or more accurately, her sister’s ghost. Strange things start happening all across town and Anne and Dave have to stand round to put out fires.

Blaylock shows his skill at writing something other than fantasy in this fast-moving, intriguing thriller. The plot is pleasingly enthralling, though not overly thickened. Although the ending is not quite unpredictable, a heard-before but still inspirational message comes forth: face your fear of dealing with the past and your ghosts will fade. A good read.
Profile Image for Tim.
776 reviews33 followers
July 24, 2012
More serious and spooky than James Blaylock's earlier books, "Winter Tides" is a novel that's not quite up to Blaylock's top standards but is a reasonably satisfying minor work. In this ghostly tale, the writer relies more on atmosphere than on quirky characters.
Profile Image for Diana.
Author 1 book32 followers
August 15, 2013
I read this because I was jonesing for a ghost story and another Goodreads user recommended this book. Although it wasn't the ghost story I was looking for, it was still an atmospheric story about the darkness that haunts minds. It started out slow, but came to a solid, satisfying conclusion.
Profile Image for Patrick.
109 reviews1 follower
April 30, 2014
First read in 1999 (possibly late '98).
Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews

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