MammyDiaries Rating: **/*****
Publisher: Double Day
Page Count: 356 (paperback)
Genre:Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Domestic Thriller
“Julia, it’s me. I need you to call me back.
Please, Julia. It’s important…”
In the last days before her death, Nel Abbott called her sister.
Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.
Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to take care of the teenage girl her sister left behind.
But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of The Old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.
And most of all, she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t pick up this book with hopes that it would live up to, or even exceed the reputation that GotT left behind, especially with all the advertisements stating that ‘if you liked The Girl on the Train, you’ll LOVE Into the Water’. One thing that is undoubtedly clear through all the uncertainty I took away from this book is that the two could not be any more different from one another and this applies not only to the style of writing but the quality also. There was, however, a slight similarity in the way ItW touches upon the limitations of memory and how it can be deceiving but this wasn’t executed anywhere near as effectively as had been done prior.
The story is based in Beckford near Newcastle, a small town connected by the river which flows through it. The water is notorious for claiming the lives of countless ‘troublesome woman’ for centuries either of their own free will or at the hands of another. The water is said to be ‘infected with the blood and bile of persecuted, unhappy woman; they drank it everyday’. To add intrigue to this prospect, there is reference to witchery and hair raising extracts detailing alleged real life cases written by Jule’s sister Nel who’s fascination and borderline obsession with the river had led her to start writing a book on it before the mystery of the water ironically took her life too. I was disappointed to discover that said extracts were few and far between, making way instead for an abundance of narrative voices (eleven to be precise).
If this wasn’t chaotic and confusing enough, some of these perspectives were in first person and some in third yet each sounded monotonously similar which irritated me endlessly throughout the whole novel. There was Nel’s sister and daughter Jules and Lena, two detectives, the Wife and Father of one of them, the Mother and younger brother of another deceased girl and even the crazy local ‘psychic’ to name but a few! It just felt completely unnecessary and often repetitive. I struggled to keep a grasp on what the hell was actually going on at some points and couldn’t help wondering how much shorted this book could have been if it was edited a little better.
Having all these narratives was bad enough but to make matters worse, not one of them was even likable. It felt like I had all of these needy voices trying to tell me their version at once and it was quite the headache. Now, I can understand the concept behind all of the characters being linked by the river to which they have some sort of mutual involvement (usually a death) and I liked the idea of this but the structure was not engaging, leading to lack of character context; ominous with poor execution.
I feel like the success of Into the Water was merely riding a wave left behind by the storm of GotT but sadly it wasn’t executed well and didn’t meet my expectations at all. The ending was lackluster and predictable and Hawkin’s cleverly flowing and relatable writing didn’t persist into her second thriller novel which was such a shame. I was not thrilled at any point in the book, there were no shocking moments or plot twists and I found the whole thing very anti-climatic. I won’t deny that Hawkins is an impressive writer and her individuality when it comes to describing and capturing scenic moments is sometimes impeccable. That being said, I couldn’t help feeling it was overdone, written with too much hopes riding on a second movie-deal.
Overall, for me this book was anything but page-turning and I would advise that anyone who picks it up hoping for more of the same with regards to GotT should think again. For me it was overambitious which resulted in it falling flat and massively missing the intended mark.
“Some say the woman left something of themselves in the water; some say it retains some of their power, forever since then it has drawn to it’s shore the unlucky, the desperate, the unhappy, the lost. They come here to swim with their sisters.”