I read my first Jennifer McMahon book when I was on vacation a few years ago. The Winter People was so good and I immediately went out and bought more of her books! She has such a unique voice and I love the gothic/creepy vibe so much and I love that she is from Vermont and sets all of her books there. I can feel her pride and love for Vermont in all the books I have read by her.
When I saw this book was coming out, I couldn’t wait. It sounded eerie and I loved that mysterious cover so much. I haven’t listened to any of her books before so I thought this would be a great book to start with. My book club even picked it as our May read and we were all super excited to read and discuss it.
For me personally, I don’t think this book was as strong as some of her others but overall it was a haunting ghost story with a creepy connection to the past. I also loved the narrators. The historic narrator wasn’t my favorite at first (she was really wispy) but within a few chapters I started to really enjoy her soothing voice, but the modern narrator was great!
Be careful what you wish for.
When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.
In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.
A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us (summary from Goodreads)
Since I have read other books by McMahon, I had high expectations. I am eager to hear what my book club members thought at our next meeting tomorrow. As I said, I thought this one was just ok, if you are looking to read something by McMahon, I think this is a good place to start but personally I thought The Winter People was better but it was also more horror. This one had a ghost/horror element but it felt less horror than The Winter People. I listened to this one on my morning walks around a local slough and it was creepy enough that I found myself gazing out across the slough and wondering if there were monsters in the water.
It is a darker story that touches on everything from alcohol abuse to mental health but I think it really gave readers a lot to ponder and consider beyond just the ghost parts. For me it made the story more rich. Jax and Lex had a contentious relationship and there were times when I felt like Jax was being spoiled and unfair toward Lex but I enjoyed watching her character process those feelings as the story unfolded. The relationships in this book are multilayered and have a lot of depth which I think makes this one a good option for book club discussions.
If you are looking for an atmospheric book then this is it. I loved the setting and the pool truly has a creepy vibe. Sparrow Crest house had a great gothic presence in the story and fans of the gothic will love this one. For horror fans, you might want a little more horror in this one but overall it’s not bad. And let me just say this…..the ending will give you chills. I think the ending made the book for me. Up until that point I was hinging on a 3 star review but the ending bumped it up to 4 stars. If you love atmospheric books with great complex characters then you don’t want to miss this one!
Book Info and Rating
April 6, 2021 by Simon & Schuster Audio
ISBN9781797119021 (ISBN10: 1797119028)LanguageEnglish
Free review copy provided by publisher, Simon & Schuster, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: mystery, thriller, horror