Top positive review
Many characters, many secrets ...
2 May 2017
After a run away best seller followed up with a blockbuster movie like the 'The Girl on the Train', the next book would be a very hard act to follow. Paula Hawkins with 'Into the Water' hasn’t stuck to the formula that made The Girl on the Train so successful – instead she has taken quite a different route, taking us through the history of a small town with a big secret at its heart. I found myself devouring Hawkins' writing even though I felt like this book was far spookier than 'The Girl on the Train', with many more characters thrown into the mix. While admittedly I disliked the introduction of so many characters and especially all of their perspectives early on, (I think there were 11 POVs in total) the story developed in a way that was compelling and readable and I eventually got the hang of it - do be careful, try to read it one sitting, or with minimum breaks as it is complex and you could easily get confused between the characters and their overlapping/often similar stories.
In the small British town of Beckford, the Drowning Pool has a dark history - this river has claimed the lives of several women. Nel is the next life it claims - a single mother of a 15-year old girl, she flings herself off a cliff into the river below, leaving behind questions as she was writing a manuscript about the river and the many suicides and deaths that have surrounded it over the years. Her estranged sister, Jules who has been away for many years, comes back to take care of her niece, even though she had never wanted to have to return because of the heartbreak it lead to. As the book unveils, secrets surface, lives are torn and questions slowly become answered.
This is quite a unique novel, I must say I have not read anything like it, the rural setting is crisp and believable and with such a diverse cast of characters the reader is often reading about the same scenes revisited through a different pair of eyes. Hawkins does this, going from past to present reasonably easy however ultimately for me, there were too many voices, so I felt I didn't really know any of them well.
I think one of the other big differences between 'Into the Water' and 'The Girl on the Train' is that while the latter sticks to one main mystery, 'Inside the Water' has three big mysteries woven throughout the book that need answering which meant I felt like there was a lot happening at once. That said I enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting and would recommend it to fans of dark, psychological thrillers with domestic settings that come unstuck. 4 Stars.