Turn The Tides Gently by Matt Wingett

(8.0/10) A complete and engaging story.

Reviewed by Mark Caney

This is an intriguing story set in present day Portsmouth centred around the main character, Dave. He is one of society's misfits who is resident in a special hostel under some form of care in the community arrangement. He is under the supervision of a well meaning doctor who believes him to be psychologically disturbed. This is because Dave has visions, and when he is unwise enough to admit them to the doctor, he is medicated until these are subdued.

To Dave, though, the visions are real enough and as the reader, we must assume they are. Dave will wander through the streets of contemporary Portsmouth and see glimpses of scenes from its past: vignettes of Victorian life, snatches of Tudor times, they come and go in his mind and seem real enough to him. The detail in these scenes make them seem authentic and the descriptions of Dave's experiences are convincing. What is also convincing is the description of his treatment, his sensations while under the medications his doctor prescribes and how they affect Dave's grasp on the dual realities he experiences.

Eventually, while beside the sea, Dave has an encounter with a strange woman - a mermaid in fact - and this is different from his other visions because she sees him and eventually communicates with him. It seems that Dave is not only glimpsing other times, but may even be able to pass into them *** spoiler alert begin *** (an ability he shares with cats it turns out) *** spoiler alert end ***.

We eventually find that there are connections between Dave, his drowned brother, and the old Victorian house that is now the hostel where he is treated in the present day. As a result, many of the characters and details suddenly make sense.

Turn The Tides Gently is a short book, more of a novella really at only 78 pages, and there are limits to how complete and detailed a world a writer can create in such a space, but overall it is a complete and engaging story. In the epub version I reviewed there was also a bonus addition: the opening chapters of another of the author's stories.

As well as being an engaging story, Turn The Tides Gently will give you a feeling for the obvious affection that Matt Wingett holds for Portsmouth and would make you want to visit the area to try to find some of the settings described in this book.

Review by


Turn The Tides Gently reader reviews

8/10 from 1 reviews

Write a reader review

There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

A Brightness Long Ago

by Guy Gavriel Kay

International bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay's latest work is set in a world evoking early Renaissance Italy and offers an extraordinary cast of characters whose li [...]

Published: 2019

Score: 101

Our rating: 10.0 | 3 positive reader reviews


The Once and Future Witches

by Alix E Harrow

In the late 1800s, three sisters use witchcraft to change the course of history in Alix E. Harrow's powerful novel of magic and the suffragette movement. [...]

Published: 2020

Score: 98

Our rating: 10.0 | 0 positive reader reviews


Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

by Susanna Clarke

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, a [...]

Published: 2004

Score: 112

Our rating: 9.7 | 15 positive reader reviews


Under Heaven

by Guy Gavriel Kay

For two years Shen Tai has mourned his father, living like a hermit beyond the borders of the Kitan Empire, by a mountain lake where terrible battles have long been fought [...]

Published: 2010

Score: 98

Our rating: 9.7 | 1 positive reader reviews