Rummanah Aasi
  I was approached by indie writer Vanessa Morgan to review her novella, Drowned Sorrow, for my blog. According to the author's good reads page, the novella has been inspired by horror films such as Dark Water, Dead and Buried, The Wicker Man, and Dagon. A movie based on Drowned Sorrow is also in works. I received a free copy from the author in order to provide an honest review. 

Description (from the back of the book): Megan Blackwood has just lost her son in a terrible accident. Now she has come to Moonlight Creek with her teenage daughter Jenna, hoping a change of scenery might help to put her life back together. But something odd is going on in Moonlight Creek. When rain falls over the village, its inhabitants commit grisly murders, leaving the place deserted with the first rays of sunshine.
  Beneath the lake's surface, an eerie presence watches... and waits... Waits to reveal a tragic past drowned in mystery and fear. One that doesn't bode well for visitors. By the time Megan realizes that her daughter's life is in danger, it may be too late to escape.

Review: Let me preface this review by saying that I'm not a big horror reader. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I don't consider slasher movies or things rich in gore, blood, and murder to be horror. What terrifies me is the subtleties of the story that seeps into your bones without you realizing it until you close the book or disturbing events that should shock you but don't. So with a pretty good book description of Drowned Sorrow, I hoped to read a fast paced, psychological thriller/horror novella but I ended up being disappointed. 
  Although the novella is less than 200 pages, I found myself putting it down quite often because I couldn't get into the story. Morgan introduces a cast of characters who stay at a eerie hotel named Willow Creek where people seem to disappear and really like water. Seriously, the only drink that is sold anywhere is water. We meet Megan and her daughter, Jenna, who are in mourning over a family member who has committed suicide. Distraught and filled with guilt, Megan's friend suggested she and her daughter spend sometime together on a resort. Along with Megan's and Jenna's stay at Willow Creek, there is Kenny who is seeking cancer treatment, and Mark, a teen who is caught in the middle of his parent's nasty divorce. All of these characters have the potential to be interesting, however, that's all that we ever know about them. There's not much character growth for any of them in the novella besides their introduction. As a reader, I need some character development to keep me interested.
  Besides the lack of character growth, I also had a few problems with the writing. There were some large questions in the book that were never answered such as: How did the village become the way it is? Why is water chosen to be dangerous? The book takes place in four days so when did the twist happen? I thought once Megan and Jenna were in the heart of the problems, we would get some details but none were given. I also thought the book's editing was done poorly. There were inconsistencies in the writing such as one sentence indicating there was no one on the beach, which was then followed by another sentence indicating that they were people there. I was quite confused and had to slow down my reading pace. I also can't make sense of the twist at the end of the book.
  I did, however, really like somethings about the book. The concept of taking something quite banal such as water and making it into something menacing is a fresh horror twist that probably hasn't been revisited in books since Jaws. The author's talent really showed through the ambiance of Willow Creek, which was definitely haunting, and the events that took place in the water was disturbing and well written. I loved how the villagers became one with the water, which I'm sure will give people who are afraid of the water even more reasons to justify their phobia. (Side note: I didn't find the book scary.)
  I clearly think I'm not the right reader for this book. Perhaps a movie adaptation with visuals will do the book more justice to the book than its editing did. Morgan definitely has the flare and talent for writing talent, which I'm sure will only improve as she writes more. If you're a fan of Stephen King or Dean Kootz, she is definitely an author to look out for and give Drowned Sorrow a chance.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and frightening moments. Even though it is marketed to adults, I think this novella also has teen appeal so I would recommend it to Grades 10 and up.

If you like this book try: The Strangers Outside by Vanessa Morgan or The Red Church by Scott Nicholson
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