Forthcoming from Fairwood Press’s novelette line in August, Jessie Kwak’s After the Tide (2023) is a fast-paced, inventive read I was fortunate enough to get my hands on early. On a planet with three moons, a rare event is about to unfold: the lowest of low tides, exposing the depths of Tarry-by-the-Sea, a city whose deepest streets have long been submerged. A game has been arranged in this sunken zone, promising untold riches for the winner, and Adria—a resourceful woman at a turning point following the death of her father—is one of the contestants. Adria goes up against numerous competitors, including ruthless corporate mercenaries with hidden agendas, in the hopes of winning the game and securing her future. In the process, she begins to uncover the secrets of the city.
With a confident voice and a memorable backdrop, After the Tide is an invigorating tale, full of action and intrigue. Tarry-by-the-Sea is a vividly imagined setting, and Adria is a sympathetic viewpoint through which to experience its sights and sounds, scoundrels and secrets. The unique POV, which mixes first and third person, is cleverly executed, first foreshadowing and then unlocking a slick central mystery. A first-rate science fiction adventure.