If you could make a wish into a dark spring water pool, would you? What if there is a price to pay if your wish comes true – would you still make that wish?
The premise for this story by author Jennifer McMahon, is so, so good. A main character has to confront her family’s past while keeping at bay the antagonist – her grandmother’s spring water pool. Now this pool doesn’t have the typical lush, blue, teal magical-color water one would think of to grant wishes, but is instead a black, sulphur-smelling realm.
Be careful what you wish for.
When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.
In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.
CONTENT WARNING: The topics this book discusses include mental illness, alcoholism, infertility, self-harm and drug use.
I liked the overall plot. Jax is a character trying to leave behind her troubles with her sister who is mentally ill and her alcoholic father who is also mentally ill while building her career as a child therapist. Oh, the irony! When her sister drowns in their grandmother’s spring water pool, Jax is forced to confront her past, including jealousies and frustrations with family members and the town.
Meanwhile, or not meanwhile, but rather in the past, we read about the beginning of a long history of drownings that have taken place in the pool. We find out that the magical pool both giveth and taketh away.
The backstory about the pool and the hotel is intriguing and the present time is also intriguing. The “is it or isn’t it magical” pool mystery keeps you turning the pages.
Unfortunately, for me, the story fell flat in places. While there’s not usually a love interest element to mysteries, this one kept hinting at something blossoming only to have it go nowhere.
Jax broke away from her sister because their grandmother left Lexie her estate and pool instead of Jax. It seemed a bit unreasonable for someone to no longer talk to their close-knit sister over an inheritance that they had no control over.
However, I do love stories about anything with dark waters and the unknown of what’s in those waters (looking at you Jaws).
I rate THE DROWNING KIND three out of five stars.