Book Review: The Drowning House

13512660Thank you to Net Galley for providing an advanced copy of The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black. They actually provided access to this last year, but the release date wasn’t until this week.

The synopsis (from Goodreads): A gripping suspense story about a woman who returns to Galveston, Texas after a personal tragedy and is irresistibly drawn into the insular world she’s struggled to leave.

Photographer Clare Porterfield’s once-happy marriage is coming apart, unraveling under the strain of a family tragedy. When she receives an invitation to direct an exhibition in her hometown of Galveston, Texas, she jumps at the chance to escape her grief and reconnect with the island she hasn’t seen for ten years. There Clare will have the time and space to search for answers about her troubled past and her family’s complicated relationship with the wealthy and influential Carraday family.

Soon she finds herself drawn into a century-old mystery involving Stella Carraday. Local legend has it that Stella drowned in her family’s house during the Great Hurricane of 1900, hanged by her long hair from the drawing room chandelier. Could Stella have been saved? What is the true nature of Clare’s family’s involvement? The questions grow like the wildflower vines that climb up the walls and fences of the island. And the closer Clare gets to the answers, the darker and more disturbing the truth becomes.

Steeped in the rich local history of Galveston, The Drowning House portrays two families, inextricably linked by tragedy and time.


Unfortunately, I could not finish this story. That creates such a sadness in me. I hate it when I start reading a book that I can’t get through! I even put this one on the “schedule” and everything! As I read the first dozen pages all I kept thinking was how all over the map it was. One paragraph would say one thing and then the next paragraph had absolutely no connection to its previous one at all. It resulted in a very choppy and confusing read. This is a haplessly written first novel and it pains me to criticize it. I had a moment where I sent an email to my fellow hoarders criticizing myself for saying this was terribly written. But I was talked off the ledge when I was reminded that while I may not have written any novels myself, I have read countless and I can easily identify a “bad” one. Okay, okay, that’s true.

I tried to continue last night with it, but again, it’s so all over the map with very choppy thoughts and details scattered on every page. I have so much to read that I decided it was time to abandon. Man, do I hate to do that!

So, overall, the very choppy thoughts and details that skipped here there and everywhere, and those thoughts that didn’t take the time to flesh out their idea, the character, the sense of place has me putting this one away. Far too many times I went “huh?” and  had to re-read sentences only to still come up with the “huh?” reaction.

It makes me sad when I read a book I don’t like. I want every book to be a great read, but I’ll just come to terms with the fact that this one wasn’t one of those “stellar debuts” and move on. No more needs to be criticized or dissected, that’s just not appropriate. For me, it just wasn’t good and I’ll be leaving it at that. 🙁