The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon (2021) Review

Mesmerizing and haunting

The Drowning Kind tells us the story of 4 women, sisters in current time and a mother and the daughter she craves in the early 1900’s.

The present narrative starts with the X sisters, Jax and Lexie. Lexie’s mental health is fragile, and she suffers from manic episodes. Needing a break from the emotional strain of having to deal with her sister’s mental state, Jax avoided contact for over a year. Out of the blue, Lexie reaches out but Jax avoids her incessant calls. When Jax is finally ready to reconnect, she finds out her sister drowned shortly after the last time she called. Lexie goes back home to deal with what happened, and starts wondering how much of her sister’s delusions about their estate’s pool is true. Lexie was convinced there were mysterious beings and the pool’s reputation for magical waters stood strong for decades.

In 1929, we follow Ethel’s journey as she does everything she can to have a child. Her journey takes us to the origins of this magical spring and its folklore.

This is my second McMahon book and I am in awe. Her books have the same effect on me as Shirley Jackson does. You finish the book with the heavy feeling of having your emotions stirred up – often for better AND worse. The way McMahon’s creates and develops characters is flawless, especially women and their relationship. Like Shirley Jackson, Jennifer is really good at representing mental illness without labeling them, but instead using the character’s POV to tells us how they are affected by their mental struggles without being defined by them.

McMahon’s books are visceral, her characters are real and the atmosphere she builds is haunting. She excels at representing the time periods she chooses to include in her book – I was seamlessly transported between 1929 and the present time. I didn’t even need to read the chapter heading to know who I was following. McMahon’s captures the time and character’s essence with every intentional sentence, word and punctuation. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that she actually lived in the 1920’s… (maybe she has?).

The last thing I feel I need to gush about is how superbly Jennifer evokes real feelings in the readers. Her mythos might be fantastic but what really terrorizes you is how she exposes human nature.

Thank you, Simon & Schuster Canada, Jennifer McMahon and NetGalley for an advanced copy of The Drowning Kind in exchange for an honest review.

#NetGalley #TheDrowningKind

Enjoyability     10

Characters       10

Ambience        10

Fairness          10

Plot                  10

Execution        10

My total rating: 5

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