When I first read the synopsis for Elizabeth Black’s The Drowning House, I was immediately intrigued. It sounded completely like my cup of tea, with the synopsis focusing heavily on a Galveston resident hung by her hair from a chandelier during the Great Hurricane of 1900. If this was the primary focus of the book, that would be great, but Black is all over the place with her writing…so much so that things get boring after awhile.
The Drowning House tells the story of Clare Porterfield, whose marriage is unraveling due to the accidental death of her young daughter. Clare is asked to organize a photograph exhibition in Galveston, the place where she grew up until she was sent away because of her part in a tragedy. During her childhood, Clare became involved with Will Carraday’s son, Patrick, and longs to see him upon her return to her hometown. However, she must deal with the ghosts in her own closet, including the memories of what happened to her long ago and what happened to Stella, a Carraday ancestor (and supposedly the owner of the “hair in the chandelier”).
I wanted to like The Drowning House so much more than I did. The characters are unsympathetic, with Patrick being made into this Heathcliff type man. Black didn’t get me to care about any of the characters’ fates, and I found myself just trying to “get through” this book instead of enjoying it. I’m not even quite sure what genre Black is going for here, but in any great book, the puzzle pieces must come together. These pieces, of which there are many, do not.
MY RATING - 2