Jennifer McMahon is my favorite author that I’ve never read before. I don’t know her personally or anything like that. I know nothing about her as a person. I don’t know her politics. I don’t even know what her books are about. But, I love her for one simple reason. My wife, days before we got married, pointed to her book The Night Sister at Target and said “That looks interesting” so I bought it for her and gave it to her on our wedding day, along with a mustard colored cardigan because she was cold.
That’s it. That’s why she’s my favorite.
Now that I have read one of her books, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that, yes, I do like her. Because, wow, this book.
The Drowning Kind has a dual narrative set in two different time periods, something I normally hate because it’s overdone. This book was able to do it extremely well, however, as there was a clear delineation between the two time periods. The primary story is set in 2019. Jackie (Jax) receives word that her sister, Lexie (Lex), died in a pool on her property. The pool is black and smells bad. It always gave Jax a bad feeling, like something sinister was below the surface (there was). The night before Lex’s death, she kept calling Jax, leaving voicemail after voicemail, each more unhinged than the last. Jax flies across country to attend the funeral.
Once she gets there, Jax discovers that Lex was going out of her mind about the pool, talking to locals about the history of the property and how it became known as Sparrow Crest. Jax feels awful about all of the time she lost with Lex over her obsession with the pool and the house. So, she gets to work trying to figure out what happened in her sister’s final days.
The secondary narrative is set in the late 1920’s. Edith and her husband, Will, go on a vacation to a hotel with springs that can heal any illness. The water is black. It smells bad. It may heal, but it always takes in kind. Edith wishes for a baby and asks the pool for help. Shortly after she finds out she is pregnant, the hotel owner’s wife takes her life in the pool. Her husband burns down the property not long after. It’s devastating, sad, and scares Edith.
So, we have two mysteries: How did Lex end up in the pool that night? What is lurking in the depths of the pool? Both are pretty much answered by the end of the book and, man, it is quite the ride getting there. The pacing is a bit slow, but it is definitely worth the payoff in the end. Highly recommended. 5/5, 9/10
You can get The Drowning Kind from your favorite indie bookstore on April 6th, 2021.
Thanks, Netgalley for the eARC!