THE DROWNING KIND by Jennifer McMahon


Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: April 6, 2021

โ˜† Don’t go near the water โ˜†

THE DROWNING KIND is a wonderfully creepy book! In Brandenburg, Vermont, and surrounding areas, the legend is that a dark pool of water fed by a natural spring has the power to grant wishes โ€” but when it gives, it also takes something away.

The murky water connects the two storylines in this book: Ethel in 1929, desperately wishing for a child of her own, and Jax in present day, returning to her deceased grandmother’s home after her sister Lexie drowns in the pool. In her last weeks, Lexie uncovered clues to the history of pool, but will Jax be able to decipher her sister’s notes and discover what’s really at the bottom?

This was an eerie, atmospheric story with a vivid sense of place. The pool itself felt alive and so menacing! The ending was quite a shocker. It’s one that I had to reread just to make sure I understood what happened. I was left with some lingering questions, but overall I enjoyed it. I connected most with Ethel’s story and my heart went out to her. Recommended to fans of haunting, slow-burn paranormal suspense. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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WATCH OVER ME by Nina LaCour


Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 15, 2020

โ˜† Major Cover Love โ˜†

WATCH OVER ME is a unique modern ghost story mixed with magical realism that’s easy to get lost in.

After spending a few years in foster care, Mila has finally aged out of the system. She accepts a teaching job for a homeschool on an isolated farm in Northern California. The farm is a special place, home to foster kids of all ages dealing with a traumatic past. Mila is hoping this is a peaceful place where she will finally fit in, but nobody told her about the ghosts.

Though it’s a short novel, WATCH OVER ME packs an emotional punch. Beautiful prose. Melancholy and heartwarming at the same time. This is a lovey introspective and haunting YA novel about grief, loss, guilt, and healing. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

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THE SANATORIUM by Sarah Pearse


Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: February 2, 2021

THE SANATORIUM was probably my most anticipated read for early 2021, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to that delicious creepy gothic cover. This book is very popular now so I don’t want to rehash the plot. Here it is in a nutshell:

Elin Warner, a British detective on leave due to PTSD from a case gone wrong, travels to the Swiss Alps to celebrate her estranged brother Isaac’s engagement at a renovated hotel, previously a sanatorium. She and Isaac have some heavy, unresolved family drama. Not long after Elin arrives, Isaac’s fiancรฉe goes missing, a snowstorm traps them at the hotel, and then dead bodies start piling up. Elin investigates to help out local police, though she lacks jurisdiction?

I love snowstorm thrillers, and I appreciated the frozen, isolated setting, especially combined with the hotel’s unsettling history as a tuberculosis hospital. Unfortunately, though, not much else appealed to me. The pacing was slow, I felt detached from the characters, and the culprit’s reason behind the murder spree was too farfetched. And then there’s the confusing epilogue. Meh, not for me. (There are other things Iโ€™d like to add about the killerโ€™s reasoning vs the victims and the epilogue vs the rest of the book, but I wonโ€™t because of spoilers.) โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

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ROOT MAGIC by Eden Royce


Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Release Date: January 5, 2021

Reading ROOT MAGIC was such a joy โ€” can I give it more than five stars? The protagonist, 11-year old Jezebel Turner, is a mighty and memorable middle grade heroine. Set in South Carolina in 1963, the story follows Jezebel as she begins to study rootwork, a tradition passed down from her Gullah ancestors.

Root magic is misunderstood by many to be something evil, but her Uncle Doc is teaching her the good ways it helps the community. She must use her newly developed powers to save herself and her family from malevolent forces threatening them, and not just otherworldly ones.

There’s so much I loved about this book, and Jezebel is such a relatable character. What stood out for me in particular was the message of friendship and discovering it in someone unexpected. The story was suspenseful and creepy at times, which kept me glued to the pages. The ending chapter was so moving, and of course, I was sad to see it end! I would love to read a sequel about Jezebel and her family, and find out what their futures hold. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

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