Jax has distanced herself from her older, bipolar sister, Lexie, and refuses to answer a series of phone calls one night when Lexie is manic. The next day, she discovers that her sister has drowned. Jax travels to her sister’s home, a manor that has long been in the family and the place where Lexie died, only to get wrapped up in the same mysteries that her sister was investigating.
I’m really striking out on my RIP books so far! It’s a bummer. This one had an interesting premise with a few spooky paranormal bits about a series of drownings and a miraculously healing spring-fed pool. After that, though, I struggled. A section is written from the past, in 1929, where a woman and her husband travel to the miracle-springs as a way to solve their infertility problems. Of course, the legend goes that no miracle is given without an equal curse to balance it, so Bad Things follow. That part of the book was more interesting, though I struggled to connect with the narrator, Ethel.
Most of the book follow’s Jax’s story, though. And it’s where I had the most difficulty. First, there was a “Chekov’s gun” early in the book that kept getting referred back to, but was never truly addressed. It was used as a device near the end, but left completely unresolved. Then, there was the fact that Lexie was such an unlikeable character, and I couldn’t figure out why Jax would feel any real shame or guilt for distancing herself. There was this weird disconnect between “I worship my older sister” and “my older sister tortured me for fun and everyone loved her and ignored me.” I mean, that could work in a story, if there was the implication that Jax’s hero-worship was something born of the abuse she suffered through. But it was put down to “it’s just family,” and then it was like…but everyone in the family is awful. Dad shows up at one point, too, and he’s just as off-the-wall horrible as Lexie. Last, Jax is a therapist who has gone through all sorts of psychological training, and yet succumbs to the weirdest, wildest theories, throwing them out one after another near the end of the book. There was a strange juxtaposition of “is this really supernatural or is it all in her head?” without any real resolution. I like ambiguity as much as the next guy, but…meh.
Honestly, I kinda knew it wasn’t going to work for me pretty early on. I considered abandoning it multiple times. It was Ethel’s story that kept me going. I should have let it go. I’ve had a lot of failed reads this year, and The Drowning Kind wasn’t worth the disappointing finish.