Published: 2nd May 2017
In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help. Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind. But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped. And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool…
The narrative begins with Libby at the drowning pool, who is being punished for the way she lives her life. I was instantly intrigued by this book, wanting to know who exactly Libby was when the main narrative was surrounding Nel Abbott and her very peculiar death. Just like The Girl On The Train, this plot doesn’t just focus on one view point as readers hear from a wide variety of characters; neighbours, family members, the local crazy lady and the police. All of this perspectives all add into her mystery death in one way or another and at times, I did have to stop and think about who was who, but once you’re into the swing of the book, it’s really good.
“The things I want to remember I can’t, and the things I try so hard to forget just keep coming.”
Julia (or Jules as she likes to be called) is one of the main characters in the narrative, a person who readers hear a lot from and her side of events was very interesting to read about especially when she recalled flashbacks from her teenage years with Nel at the drowning pool and a certain heartthrob at the time. I really enjoyed reading from her perspective as she was a completely different person and the relationship between the two sisters had changed quite a lot. As children, Nel was the one in charge, always making digs about Julia’s weight and her relationship with a local boy seemed to cause a fair amount of trouble, whereas Julia was the quiet one, always trying to keep the peace and stay away from trouble. Yet when the two grew into adults and began living their own very separate lives, Nel became very dependent on Julia, constantly trying to speak to her, build up their broken relationship but to no surprise, Julia wanted nothing to do with her. There is a particular flashback (just under 100 pages in), which is a particularly strong flashback that involves Julia being in pain from a situation which is completely out of her hands. Despite this being a difficult scene, I’m pleased that Paula Hawkins decided to include it as it may allow the puzzle pieces to come together.
“Lena, it’s already happened. It’s been happening since November.”
The plot wasn’t just about Nel’s death as there were sub plots surrounding Katie’s suicide and Lauren’s murder. I really liked how these three mysterious deaths all came together and built up towards the end of the book. For me, Julia and Lena were particularly brilliant characters and their chapters were the ones whose I enjoyed reading the most – yes, at times, the continuous point of view change wasn’t necessary but nevertheless, I adapted to the style and enjoyed hearing from multiple characters.
This book is particularly easy to spoil. I could write a handful of sentences, letting you know how it all finishes but I won’t because nobody likes that. What I will say is that it didn’t go in the direction that I thought it would as I expected Nickie (the neighbour who talks to dead people) to have a much bigger part in the ending than she did. What I will say, is that the end results of the three deaths isn’t what you think it is – there is more to the story once the case has been closed and it did shock me a little. However, now that I’ve had time to think about the book whilst writing this review, I can understand why Nel’s death happened the way it did.
Did I love it as much as The Girl On The Train? No, sadly I didn’t. But, it is brilliant.
“Because if anything was clear, anything at all, if anything in this horror was without a doubt, it was Lena’s love for Katie.”