Books & Literature

Book Review: Deep Water, by Sarah Epstein

YA THRILLER: A gripping mystery about a missing boy and a group of teenagers, one of whom knows something but isn’t telling.

A wild ride full of suspense which takes you on a journey of intrigue in a small town.

Deep Water is the second book written by writer, illustrator and designer Sarah Epstein, Her first being the critically acclaimed Small Spaces.

Deep Water is the story of Chloe and her friends Raf, Mason, Sabeen, Rina and Tom. They live in the small town of The Shallows outside Sydney. It is a typical small Australian town where life usually goes on without much drama and the locals all know each other. They all know the crooked businessman, the town drunk and the local business owners, and think they know what happens behind closed doors, or they turn a blind eye to what is none of their business.

Three months ago, a young 13-year-old boy called Henry (brother to Mason and friend of Chloe) went missing. Chloe, who lives in Sydney with her mum but spends her holidays with her motel owner father in The Shallows, is obsessed with finding out what has happened to her young friend. So begins a tale of lies, secrets and intrigue. Each person has their own secret that they will do anything to hide, but which secret is relevant to the disappearance of Henry?

Deep Water is full of suspense as we learn more about each character and their relationships with their friends. The adults in the town have secrets as well and we are never really sure who we can trust as we are taken on a wild ride trying to pull apart the lies and put the real story back together again to find the truth. We follow Chloe as she unravels the lies, but will she divulge her own secrets?

The themes are deep and cover a lot of issues teens may face today: themes like our first love, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual, bullying, anger, the dangers of the internet and “catfishing”, dysfunctional families, children dealing with parents who suffer from alcoholism, children having to step up and be the parent and bread winner, and violence in the home. All these are very heavy themes but treated with compassion and there are glimmers of goodness from others.

We become invested in the lives of these young adults who are grappling with life and all it throws at them. They are all suffering from some sort of guilt and the reader finds themselves with the compelling need to know what happened to Henry. Each character is well-rounded and the chapters are written from the point of view of either Chole, Mason or Henry. Deep Water is complex and well-paced, and it is difficult to put down.

This novel is written for young adults but would be an equally thrilling read for any adult who enjoys a good suspense/thriller story. I enjoyed every moment in this book. It was riveting and I was kept guessing until the very end.

I highly recommend Deep Water to anyone who loves a great story.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: March 2020
RRP: $19.99

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