Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Audiobook Review: INTO THE WATER by Paula Hawkins

Author: Paula Hawkins
Random House Audiobooks
May 2017
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

“In whatever direction you go, somehow you always end up back at the river.”

Book Description:

Suicide spot or a place to get rid of troublesome women? Writer-photographer Nel Abbott divided the community when she explored this topic in her manuscript about the Drowning Pool, a riverbend near the small English town of Beckford. Although it is a place of undeniable beauty, it also has a dark history, with many women having lost their lives there, from the time of the witch-hunts to the present. With teenager Katie Whittaker being the latest suicide victim, Nel’s theories opened some raw wounds and made her a few enemies. So no one in Beckford is very surprised when Nel herself ends up drowned, in the very place that held such fascination for her. The only question is – which category does she fall into? Did she jump, or did someone get rid of a troublesome woman?

My musings:

With all the hype surrounding this book, and the bookish community divided in their opinions about Hawkins’ latest offering, I was very interested to see how this novel would play out for me. Due to a few extra work commitments, it took a bit longer than usual to get through the audio book, but I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it! Yes, there are A LOT of characters. In some books, this does not work well for me, especially in the audio version, where it is impossible to flick back the pages in frustration: “And who is this character again?” But surprisingly, Hawkins managed to pull this off perfectly. In this case, for me, the multiple POVs added to the suspense. I felt as if I was surrounded by hundreds of pieces of a giant jigsaw, each chapter and POV giving me a tiny piece of the puzzle, which I had to put into its right place to create a whole. Slowly but steadily the picture formed in my mind, unravelling the mystery. It shows Hawkins’ skill as a writer to bring all the pieces together so neatly in the end - very clever!

It is at this point that I must also point out what a brilliant job all five narrators did, lending an individual voice to each of their characters and bringing them to life for me. Although none of the characters are very likeable (and some are downright nasty), their presence created the chilling atmosphere of a town overshadowed by tragedy. The Drowning Pool, apart from its geographical presence, became a symbol of a society where dirty secrets are drowned in silence – pun intended. With a dark and sinister undercurrent ever present, Hawkins paints the perfect bleak backdrop one comes to expect from a top-class British mystery – I could picture the wisps of fog creeping along the river banks at night, a lonely owl hooting in the woods, a silent figure scaling the cliffs lining the riverbank. 


Into the Water is a clever, multi-layered and compelling mystery about small town secrets and relationships, explored through the voices of many different characters who all play some part in the unexplained drowning deaths of two local women. If you are looking for a fast-paced read, this may not be for you, as it moves deliciously slowly, like the deep black waters of the Drowning Pool itself, the answers to its mysteries mired in the murky depths of the town’s darkest secrets and biggest shames. But those who enjoy a dark, atmospheric and character driven read may find that it is exactly what they have been looking for. I really enjoyed the journey – this time by water rather than by train - and will be looking forward to reading more from this talented author.

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