Book Review: Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

Title: Into the Water

Author: Paula Hawkins
Publication Date: 2 May 2017 (ePub and hardcover) & 17 May 2018 (paperback)

Twitter: @PaulaHWrites


Just days before her sister plunged to her death, Jules ignored her call.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules must return to her sister’s house to care for her daughter, and to face the mystery of Nel’s death.

But Jules is afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of this small town that is drowning in secrecy . . . 

And of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.


Thank you to Alison Barrow at Transworld Books for providing me with a review copy of Into The Water by Paula Hawkins, author of the #1 bestseller The Girl on the Train.
I may be in a fairly unique position in that I read Into The Water without having read Hawkins’ first novel, the hugely successful The Girl on the Train. This provided me with a small advantage in that I had no preconceptions about Into The Waterand I had no expectations that the author had to live up to.
The tale is set in England and focuses on the small northern town of Beckford. It is there that Nel Abbott’s live comes to an abrupt end when she seemingly jumps to her death into the ‘Drowning Pool’, a spot that is notorious for being the location for a number of suicides and drownings over the centuries.  Nel Abbott has long been obsessed with the women who lost their lives at the Drowning Pool and it is therefore somewhat ironic that this is where her own life is extinguished also.  Was her death really the accident it seems or is there something more sinister afoot…?
The plot is ambitious and complex, linking the past and the present, and a number of different stories. The complexity impacts on the ability to build suspense and tension into the story and I didn’t feel that the tale had quite the energy and tension one would usually expect from a psychological/crime thriller, however Hawkins style of writing moves the novel away from psychological thriller and more towards literary suspense, which allows for a slower, more gradual pace. Hawkins has used location and history, and a hint of supernatural via a local psychic, to create an atmospheric tale.  I was fascinated by the glimpses into the historical deaths to be both horrifying and riveting in equal measures.
Unusually, Into The Water has 11 different voices providing the narrative, some chapters being in first person and others in third person narrative. Whilst this does provide a fascinating insight into different corners of the Beckford community and does build another level of complexity into the story, it also resulted in some confusion on my part. I struggled slightly to keep the characters straight in my mind whilst simultaneously being subjected to a variety of contradictory versions of the same events. I found myself having to refer to the character index at the beginning of the book on more than one occasion, which did interrupt the flow of my reading somewhat. 
Having so many different narrators gave the author little time to really dig deeply into each of their lives and backgrounds, leaving the characters somewhat two-dimensional.  It did not help that, for the most part, the women are pretty unlikable and the men are all morally-corrupt liars. This did make it somewhat difficult for me to emotionally invest in any of those characters.
I do like the multiple character/multiple plot format, and Into The Water certainly held my interest. I enjoyed the book and I think it will likely be very successful as one of 2018’s summer reads. It is dark, creepy, atmospheric and very readable. 

About the Author

Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. She is the author of two #1 New York Times bestselling novels, Into The Water and The Girl on The Train. An international #1 bestseller, The Girl on The Train has sold almost 20 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into a major motion picture. Hawkins was born in Zimbabwe and now lives in London.


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