• Mandy McHugh

FIVE STARS to The Drowning King, Jennifer McMahon: A Review

Jennifer McMahon is an author I always look forward to reading. The Winter People and The Uninvited were two of my favorite reads the past year, and I couldn't wait to jump into The Drowning King. That cover is stunning, haunting, and ethereal, much like McMahon's writing, and I was not disappointed.

Jax is doing everything she can to live a normal life when she receives word that her sister, Lexie, has been found dead at her family home. Drowned, they said, and unfortunately for Jax, the house comes with a history of mysterious deaths, all linked to a natural springs pool on the outskirts of the property. As she cleans house, Jax dives deeper into her sister's inner workings in the days leading up to her death, she begins to question whether there's more to what happened to Lexie than her manic episodes. I loved this book so much. Let me start by saying, it's extremely difficult to do a haunted house story. They've been done a million times over, and not many people can fit the delicate balance between stereotype and originality. McMahon, however, does this beautifully. The house is not the sole focus of Jax's story, but it is always in our peripheral, lurking in our thoughts in a creepy, suspenseful way that is hard to shake. This is strengthened by the alternating timelines, almost like the past is hurrying to catch up to the present, and this structure added to the overall uneasiness. Ethel's voice is interesting and strong, and while Jax was my favorite, both POVs were well-executed, well-paced, and purposeful. You can't have one without the other, and Ethel added nuance and depth to the current timeline. Additionally, I loved the subject matter. Having grown up in the capital district, I've spent pretty much every summer in Saratoga that I can remember. My husband and I got married at the Canfield Casino, and as soon as I read about the springs, I pictured the stately, historic hotels that make up a sizable portion of Saratoga Springs. There is a note of history in McMahon's version, too, as people flocked from near and far to visit Saratoga and Gideon Putnam's famous springs for health and wellness. It's interesting in its own right, but having the connection resonated in a different way for me, and I know I won't be able to shake this story any time soon. Overall, The Drowning Kind is an emotional, taut, haunting. McMahon proves once again to be a master of timeless ghost stories, and I definitely put this on my must read 2021 list This is one you don't want to miss. Big thanks to Gallery and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange of honest review consideration.


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