Dark and disturbing story, beautifully told
By Elizabeth Black
Knopf Doubleday Publishing
When professional photographer Clare Porterfield receives an invitation to return to her home town of Galveston, Texas, to coordinate a historical photo exhibit, she accepts it. Her marriage is crumbling beneath the weight of a family tragedy, and Clare takes the opportunity to return to her roots, despite the cloud of scandal under which she left some years previous, and the shaky bonds she’s barely maintained with the surviving members of her family. Clare begins to examine the community’s oldest photos and poke into her own family history, and that of one of the most powerful families in Galveston. But the deeper the story goes, and the further back in history, the darker the secrets get, until Clare uncovers the most shocking secret of all.
A lot of first novels ramble along like a clumsy puppy, mechanically uneven and stilted, tripping a bit as the author learns her trade. Not this one. Elizabeth Black’s writing skills are remarkably well-developed, and the story unfolds in beautiful, if grim, prose. The reader doesn’t get much respite from the dark and unsettling subject matter, but the writing is really lovely, and the characters (including Galveston) come alive through the author’s words. Suspenseful, disturbing, and stark, Drowning House is a very worthy read.