I, like pretty much everyone else in the world, was STOKED for the release of Paula Hawkins’s newest thriller, Into the Water. Hawkins, of The Girl on the Train fame, doesn’t shy away from twisted stories, so this one was bound to be a page-turner. I was extra excited about this book because it was the first one I got from the popular Book of the Month club. If you haven’t heard of BOTM (unlikely), it’s a subscription service that curates a list of five books per month that you can choose from and it’s AWESOME. (Side note… Why didn’t I think of this!? SUCH a good idea and product.)
Women in the sleepy British town of Beckford have been dying in the Drowning Pool for centuries. Its first victims, way back in 1679, were suspected witches who were drowned to prove that they weren’t witches. Because we were smart back then. As the centuries rolled on, the witch drownings may have ceased, but the curse of the pool remained. Today, the pool is the site of an unsettling number of suicides, the latest being Nel Abbott. After Nel’s death, her estranged sister, Jules, is called back out to the town she vowed to never return to care for Lena, her now-motherless teenage niece. Once there, Jules learns that Nel was working on a book about the Drowning Pool and its victims, including its most recent–Lena’s best friend Katie. Not everyone was on board with the idea of a book about the Drowning Pool, the loudest critic being Katie’s grieving mother and Nel’s most recent enemy. The evidence begs the question: did Nel kill herself in the storied Drowning Pool or did someone take her life from her?
This book is complicated. The story is told by myriad characters, not precisely in chronological order. There are SO MANY subplots to track, some of which didn’t actually end up leading anywhere and others I had trouble remembering in the moment. There’s a town psychic who I think thinks she’s a witch so she spits a lot? She just confused me. The moral is that it was just tough to keep everything straight with this one. As much as I wanted to love it, I only liked it. I’d recommend this one to anyone who has the time to read it in one or two sittings. Otherwise, you’re going to need a tracking sheet or two.
My favorite quote: “No one liked to think about the fact that the water in that river was infected with the blood and bile of persecuted women, unhappy women; they drank it every day.”