Monday, November 13, 2017

Eerie Gothic Overtones Make Hawkins' Newest An Atmospheric Psychological Thriller

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For hundreds of years, the women of Beckford have been dying in a part of the local river that's become known as the "Drowning Pool."  Whether the dead chose a watery grave for themselves or were forced off the craggy cliffs surrounding the spot is part of its mystery.  Nel Abbott has always been obsessed with the Drowning Pool, so much so that she's crafting a coffee table book about its history.  When Nel becomes the latest in a long string of difficult women to die in the Drowning Pool, no one's overly surprised.  After all, the photographer spent lots of time on the cliffs, trying to capture the perfect photo.  She could easily have lost her footing, accidentally plunging to her death.  The more evidence that mounts, however, the more it appears that something much more sinister happened to Nel Abbott ...

Nel's younger sister, Jules, arrives in Beckford—the town to which she swore she would never return—to try to understand Nel's death.  She's also charged with the care of her newly orphaned niece.  Already haunted by the recent suicide of her best friend, who killed herself in the Drowning Pool, 15-year-old Lena grows even more surly and withdrawn in the wake of Nel's death.  Jules, a lonely, childless social worker, has no idea how to comfort Lena, let alone herself.  

Jules is desperate to know what really happened to her sister; her inquiries, however, produce more questions than answers.  Someone in tiny Beckford knows the truth.  Everyone is hiding something, but no one's talking.  Can Jules figure out how Nel died?  Or will her pointed questions lead to her own corpse being dragged out of the murky depths of the Drowning Pool?

With its eerie Gothic overtones, Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, is an atmospheric novel that's as haunting as it is compelling.  It's more layered than The Girl On the Train, but somehow less original.  Still, the story kept me turning pages far into the night.  As engrossing as the tale is, it's also sad and depressing.  Overall, I found it intriguing but not nearly as mesmerizing as Hawkins' debut.  Even though I'm not bowled over by the author's sophomore effort, I'm still anxious to see what she does next.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of novels by Carol Goodman and of the Jess Tennant trilogy by Jane Casey)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language, violence, disturbing subject matter, and depictions of prescription drug abuse

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Into the Water from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.


3 comments:

  1. I have this one sitting on my shelf and I need to get to it. I've heard it isn't as good as The Girl on the Train but I am still excited for it. Great review!

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  2. I really need to read one of Hawkins' books. Maybe I'll start with this one and save The Girl on the Train for last. :)

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  3. I liked The Girl on the Train enough to try this one. I’m not going in with huge expectations so that’s good.

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