Book Review: The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

I was fortunate this year that a trip to the beach to celebrate my being fully vaccinated coincided shortly after the release of The Drowning Kind, the latest book from one of my favorite authors Jennifer McMahon. Needless to say this provided me some incredible reading material for my trip. Throughout her career Jennifer McMahon has shown an incredible talent for writing gothic horror which often weaves throughout generations of characters, grabbing readers with engrossing tales of intricately plotted terror. The Drowning Kind continues to prove that McMahon is the best at what she does.

Though she moved to the other side of the country to escape her family, Jax’s has to return home when her sister Lexie seemingly commits suicide. She is found dead in the spring fed pool on the grounds of their grandmother’s old house known as Sparrow Crest. What Jax discovers is that leading up to the tragedy, her sister had been pouring herself into research about the history of their family as well as Sparrow Crest’s own dark past. It seems beneath the murky waters of this pool are a number of secrets and ghosts from the past. The story of Jax’s digging into the past alternate with the story of Ethel, a newlywed in the late 1920’s who desperately wants to have a child. She and her husband hope that a trip to a new hotel built on a supposedly mystical spring will be the solution to the problems. As the book unfolds we see how the stories of these two young women are tied together by magical waters that give and take with equal measure.

While this may be a may be a spooky gothic tale, McMahon understands that this story is nothing without characters the reader can latch onto. The protagonist Jax is a character we completely understand in just the first few chapters of set-up. We see that leading up to her sister’s suicide, Jax ignored a series of her calls. Writing them off as Lexie simply being off her meds again and not wanting to deal with gives way to the guilt which plagues her for the rest of the story. She is someone who failed her sister when she needed her most and while she is at Sparrow Crest she is haunted by it both literally and figuratively. Despite being grounded in realism, the dreariness of a classic ghost story linger over this book with every chapter. The reader will no doubt feel the chill of the icy waters and the spirits within as the get lost in the pages of the Drowning Kind. The scares start slow, but continuously build until there is not escaping them until you finally reach and end which will leave you shaken.