THE DROWNING KIND by Jennifer McMahon

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us.


Jennifer McMahon’s latest book is not at all surprising – a horror story. She has written in this genre for many years, and been quite successful in scaring the heck out of her readers. Pleased to inform the prospective readers that her writing continues with the same scary format so be warned. Don’t sit down at night with no one else home.     

The story flips back and forth between two generations about fifty years apart. It tells about two women subjected to the same horror and how they deal with it. The connection between them becomes apparent during a well contrived ending.   

Jax is the women living in the present with the occupation of social worker. We meet her at the point of having to rush back to her girlhood home when she is told that her sister Alexis (Lexie) has died. The two have been estranged for quite a while due to Lexie’s pushing her away and her death due to drowning is sudden and unexpected.       

Ethel Monroe is a 37-year-old newlywed in 1929 and desperately wanting to have a baby. Her husband takes her on a trip to Vermont where a natural spring is showcased by a new, very modern hotel. Her husband is a doctor who can practice medicine where he likes, and to please his new wife they move up to the area where the hotel and the spring are close.     

The two women are both affected by the spring, a lake and events surrounding it.  McMahon has the knack of building her stories up slowly but surely and reaching a crescendo for her readers. Where the horror comes in to the story is the plot of the book and a logical and frightening circumstance that makes “The Drowning Kind” another Jennifer McMahon excellent read.

4/2021 Paul Lane

THE DROWNING KIND by Jennifer McMahon. Gallery/Scout Press (April 6, 2021). ISBN: 978-1982153922. 336 pages.

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