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Song Beneath the Tides

Beverley Birch

Young adult


‘A magical layered story weaving past and present that stole my heart.’ Jasbinder Bilan

‘The writing is beautiful, summoning the East African landscape with such clarity and precision that I feel I’ve walked on this light-drenched coast. A tender love story that turns eerie, fierce and political, with a strong message about community and resistance.’ Liz Flanagan

‘It brings Africa so close, beautifully drawn and so heartbreaking…yet so life affirming’ Sarah Mussi, author of Siege

‘Those in search of a more unusual thriller should try Song Beneath the Tides by Beverley Birch. It is a rich and gripping novel that explores the lasting impact of colonialism, the horrors of animal poaching and the effects of tourism on local communities in East Africa. Past and present stories collide as Ally experiences glimpses into the past. Her visions are deeply rooted in the legends and stories of Kisiri, a sacred island at risk from poachers and threatened by tourist development. Told in parallel timelines, this novel is a unique and fresh story for YA readers. It presents challenging themes in an accessible, engaging and thought-provoking way and at its heart it is a story about hope and the importance of working together.’ The Scotsman

Love story, ghost story, thriller.

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. 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?