Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

From the author of The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins, comes the new novel Into the Water. While The Girl on the Train was a psychological thriller, Into the Water is more a mystery novel, in my opinion. I loved Hawkins’ debut novel and were really looking forward to her latest.

The story is narrated from the point of view of various characters.  It plays off in a small town called Beckford and centers on the mystery of ‘The Drowning Pool’, labelled that way as many women have died in the river. It starts off with Jules being informed of her sister Nel’s death. Nel Abbott who investigated the deaths of all the ‘troublesome’ women that died in the drowning pool, convinced that there is more to the story.

Nel’s death, weeks after a teenage girl’s drowning, is believed to be suicide, however her 15 year old daughter, Lena does not seem to think so (who coincidently is also the best friend of the deceased girl, Katie).  Being forced to return to her hometown because of her sister’s death, Jules finds herself being haunted by her past. She had a strained relationship with Nel because of events that happened in their teenage years and now she is back in town having to take care of her niece, who she met for the first time upon her return.

I found Into the Water to be a satisfying thriller with more than enough drama to keep the reader invested in the story. There is a slow build of suspense in the beginning, but it picks up about a quarter of the way through. There’s abuse, deception, suicide, rape, murder and unreliable characters that carries with them a myriad of secrets.

In addition, there’s more darkness to the novel with claims of witchcraft, but the story moves into the eerie territory in the second half of the novel. At first I thought I was disappointed that the deaths of the women over the centuries had nothing to do with witches, but then that would be a little too farfetched, wouldn’t it?

The twists in the story were both expected and unexpected in equal measure, with the last twist to be the most surprising of all (to me, at least). I can’t say more about the plot without revealing too much and from all the unlikable characters in the novel, I liked Lena the most. She may have been a troublesome teen with a bad attitude in the beginning, but I think out of all she grew the most. Jules on the other hand has shown some growth too, but she learned an import lesson: it’s better to tell someone what is troubling you than keeping quiet and having to live with regret.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Penguin Random House for review consideration.

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