My enormous thanks to Emma Finnigan PR for a copy of Beneath the Water by Sarah Painter in return for an honest review and an apology that it has taken so long to get round to reading it!
Published by Lake Union on 8th February 2018, Beneath the Water is available for purchase here.
Beneath the Water
Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past…
Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected.
At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by a string of tragic deaths. No less intriguing is its eccentric and handsome young owner, Jamie Munro, who hires Stella as his assistant while he pursues a seemingly impossible aim. Working through the great house’s archives, Stella soon finds herself drawn in by a cache of increasingly erratic letters from a young Victorian woman about her husband, Dr James Lockhart, a man whose single-minded ambition has strange parallels with Jamie’s.
Just as Stella begins developing feelings for Jamie, she discovers that the connection between the Lockharts and the Munros could have sinister repercussions for them both. She’s finally found the life she wants to live—but is it all an illusion?
My Review of Beneath the Water
A break up with her unfaithful boyfriend sees Stella running away to old university friends Rob and Caitlin in Scotland.
I’m going to be totally honest and say that Beneath the Water is not a perfect book for me. There are times when I felt Stella would have been more confrontational or straightforward with Rob, Jamie and Caitlin, so that I did need to suspend my disbelief on occasion and I would have liked a more equitable balance between present and past events, giving the subplot greater status.
However, that said, I think the fact that Beneath the Water is slightly off-kilter is actually a positive aspect as it reflects the ominous events and atmosphere surrounding Munro House. I thought Beneath the Water was a very entertaining read. It has elements of romance, crime, history and psychological thriller so that I really do think there is something for every reader between its pages. Although I felt sometimes characters might have behaved differently, there is no denying we can’t really know how we might respond until we’re in a similar situation. What Sarah Painter does so well in Beneath the Water is show how we never really fully know ourselves, never mind other people, and that makes for a very interesting read.
I really enjoyed the exploration of science and how history and genetics can, or can be perceived to, affect present lives. Beneath the Water made me realise just how much we take for granted and expect from medical advances today with little or no regard for those who have put themselves through severe experiments for our benefit. I always enjoy a book that makes me think. Consequently, I’d have liked to hear even more about Jessie and the lives in the past as I thought those passages through Jessie’s letters were very creepy and menacing.
I particularly enjoyed the evocative setting of highland Scotland. The plot of Beneath the Water is dramatic and entertaining. I could really see this narrative translating into an excellent television series, especially as Sarah Painter uses the weather and a very visual description of facial expression so effectively, so that actors could portray the characters easily. The relatively reduced number of characters also added to the claustrophobic and threatening undercurrents providing a very evocative effect.
Beneath the Water is unusual, entertaining and actually very thought provoking. I found it intriguing and enjoyed it.
About Sarah Painter
Before writing books, Sarah Painter worked as a freelance magazine journalist, blogger and editor, combining this ‘career’ with amateur child-wrangling (AKA motherhood).
Sarah’s debut novel, The Language of Spells, is contemporary fiction with a touch of magic, while her latest, In The Light of What We See, mixes historical fiction with psychological thriller. Yes, she finds it difficult to stick to one genre!
Sarah lives in rural Scotland with her children, husband, and a grey tabby called Zelda Kitzgerald. She drinks too much tea, loves the work of Joss Whedon, and is the proud owner of a writing shed.