On Silver Tides

On Silver Tides

By Author / Illustrator

Sylvia Bishop



Age range(s)



Andersen Press Ltd




Paperback / softback




Kelda has always protected her little sister Isla from danger on the rivers, and from the suspicions of their community. For Isla cannot breathe underwater - and so her very existence is forbidden by silvermen's Lore. Now the rivers of England are growing sick: monstrous creatures are awakening and a fierce torrent of blame falls upon Kelda's family.

When betrayal comes, the sisters escape on a desperate journey upstream. Joining forces with a mysterious boy, Kelda discovers the darkest depths of her kind's secret history. But to save both her sister and the very life of Britain's waterways, Kelda will have to make a sacrifice - one that will change her life forever.  Cover art by Thy Bui.   'A classic in the making' Katya Balen.

Find out more in Sylvia Bishop's Q&A




Sylvia Bishop has written a wonderful story that will transport you to a fantasy world set within our own. On Silver Tides is set on the rivers of England and is steeped with myth and River Lore.

Kelda's sister Isla is born to a family of silvermen, who can breathe through their skin underwater, but when she is thrown in the river at seven days old, she almost drowns. Isla is different and her family must protect her from the rest of their community because, if her secret is discovered, she will be sentenced to death by drowning. The silvermen can be a superstitious lot and will believe that her very existence is what is placing the health of their waterways at risk. Kelda, however, is fiercely loyal and will go to any lengths to protect her sister. What follows is a spellbinding adventure where we encounter merpeople, Weards, Wyrms and sea monsters in a bid to keep Kelda's sister safe.

On Silver Tides is a thoroughly enjoyable read and I found myself totally immersed in the story that Sylvia Bishop has created. It revolves around a close-knit family with characters that are complex and real. I was swept away by this fantasy adventure; it felt like a complete escape from real life. There is an underlying message that we must look after our waterways to avoid an environmental crisis.

This book will appeal to readers that enjoy an adventure, romance or fantasy. The cover is beautifully illustrated and there is of course a map of the waterways at the beginning of the book. After every couple of chapters, there are extracts to read which add detail to the various plant and animal life that we encounter along the way. I absolutely loved Robin Hood the duck, and the possibility that there could be a secret world of silvermen hidden in plain sight!

320 pages / Reviewed by Clair Bossons, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 11+


16-year-old Kelda and her family belong to a race of hidden people called silvermen. They can swim like fish and breathe through their skin. They live on boats and travel the waterways of Britain. However, Kelda has a younger sister, Isla, who was born different. She cannot breathe underwater, and her existence is forbidden under the Lore of the silvermen. Her family have kept her safe and protected for seven years, but now she has been betrayed. The river is sick, and the silvermen think that Isla is to blame. To save their way of life, they want to sacrifice Isla to the river. Determined to save her younger sister, Kelda takes Isla on a dangerous and exciting adventure, encountering monstrous creatures along the way - and also finding love.

On Silver Tides is a beautifully written book, full of lovely characters. Kelda is wonderful, brave and loyal; she will do anything to protect her sister, even if it means completely changing her life. As they journey towards safety, she and Isla meet the mysterious Douglas, who seems to be a landman but who is also hiding an incredible secret. Isla is funny and feisty, she loves Kelda fiercely, mainly as Kelda has, in many ways, been like a mother to her.

The author intersperses the storyline with extracts from silvermen texts. This is a clever device which helps the reader to understand the Lore - the rules by which silvermen live - and also tells the reader about some of the creatures Kelda and Douglas have to face. We meet peg-o-lanterns, scary Lavellan and the horrible, wraith-like Fuathan, as Kelda strives to not only keep Isla safe, but also to rescue her father from terrible danger.

This is a fantasy novel, but one set in England, full of folklore and imagination. At its heart, this is a book about love, and the importance of family. It is also about forgiveness. Kelda has to come to terms with the circumstances surrounding Isla's birth, and also with her brother's betrayal of Isla.  Another theme covered by the book is the importance of looking after the waterways, reflecting on the pollution being poured into them by the 'landmen'.

On Silver Tides is a lovely, thought-provoking book, I can recommend it as an important addition to any school library - I would love to know what happens next!

320 pages / Reviewed by Beverley Somerset, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 11+


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