A bewitching story that falls flat

book

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Book review:  3 out of 5 star rating

A woman is found dead in the water, water where many other women have drowned. In fact, this water is known as The Drowning Pool.  Nel’s death has occurred just months after Katie, a friend of Nel’s daughter Lena, was found drowned.  Now Nel’s sister Jules has returned home though she swore she would never return.

This is quite a complex story involving many characters. The book goes back to 1679 during the Witchfinder Trials, where women suspected of being witches are thrown with bound hands into the water with the idea if they floated, they could be declared witches.  But if they drowned, oh well, guess they weren’t witches after all.  Legend has it that The Drowning Pool is haunted by one of these girls.

The author jumps back and forth between the story of the girl drowned for being suspected of witchhood to the present story of Nel’s drowning, the recent story of Katie’s drowning and also a woman who had died a couple of decades ago. I thought the author did a very good job of creating an eerie, haunting atmosphere and I enjoyed that part of the book.  However, I never really got too involved in the mysteries of these drownings and felt the red herrings went in too any directions and became confusing.  There was an overabundance of statements such as “after what I did” or “how can I bear this guilt”, which of course left you hanging not knowing what they did.  But I can’t say that I ever really cared what they did or didn’t do or who did what to whom.  Though I did enjoy parts of this book.  I think it just went in too many directions.

It’s quite a different book from “The Girl on the Train”. It had great potential of being a good psychological character study but I can’t help but feel that the author was trying too hard.  The stress of writing a follow up to her immensely popular first book must have been quite intense.  Here’s hoping that her next one will pull together better as there’s no doubt that she’s a talented author.

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