Blog tour: Echoes of Drowning by Lis McDermott

Echoes of Drowning

This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

‘It is 2018, and Jess is delving into the mysterious and tragic events surrounding the sinking of the Aliciana in 1915. Her only link is Amy, who, although now deceased, survived only to mourn the loss of her husband, Will.

‘Following her mother’s death, Jess and her father, Danny, move to Llaneirw on the Welsh coast. Both grieving, Danny begins renovating their new house in a desperate attempt to make it home. But the onset of recurring nightmares leads Jess to realise they have a spirit in their house and a mystery to solve.

‘A short break to Anglesey with her friend Lukas sees the mystery deepen when Jess is unnerved by his grandfather and distressed when she catches sight of a photograph of his great-grandfather.

‘Jess soon discovers that uncovering the reasons for her reaction to the image will help in solving the mystery. But first, Jess must find a way of convincing those around her that her dreams are, in fact, the truth.’

Echoes of Drowning

In Echoes of Drowning, by Lis McDermott, we meet 18-year-old Jess as she moves to the small Welsh town of Llaneirw with her father, Danny, a few months after her mother dies in a tragic accident.

Their new house is haunted by widow Amy, who lost her husband, Will, in 1915 when the ship they were travelling on was torpedoed. Amy never remarried, and died in 1958, but her spirit has lingered ever since.

After six decades of being unable to alert anyone to her continued presence, Amy finds Jess receptive, and manages to convey her sad story through Jess’ dreams. This prompts Jess, Danny, and new friend Fran to do some research on Amy and the HMS Aliciana, though Danny remains skeptical of Jess’ spooky experiences.

When Jess sees a photo of her friend Lukas’ great-grandfather, and realises she’s seen him getting up to no good in the scenes Amy has been sharing with her, events take a decidedly sinister turn, as Jess gets closer and closer to uncovering secrets some people are still determined to keep hidden.

I found Echoes of Drowning enjoyable and compelling. The author’s clear, straightforward writing style had me flying through the pages, wanting to find out what Amy was trying to tell Jess, and what the consequences would be.

Both women’s stories drew me in from the start. Amy’s is simply heartbreaking, while I was curious to see how Jess – and by extension, Danny – would fare as they tried to rebuild their shattered lives in a new place.

As a fan of all things spooky, I was especially attracted to this book by the supernatural element, and was pleased with how it bore out.

This ranged from the way Jess’ dreams manifest physically (making them more difficult to explain away); to the chill that went down my spine when Danny found Amy in the house’s records, and Amy directed Jess to a long-lost piece of her jewellery; to the way Amy manages to cause a small – but sufficient – disturbance at exactly the right time.

I liked how, despite being a ghost, Amy was a benign, if sad, presence who just wanted to get wrongs righted so she could move on and finally be reunited with her husband, while all the intentionally unnerving and perilous encounters in the book came at the hands of the living.

There were times when I did feel the story hinged a little too heavily on coincidence and convenience, though. For instance, while Jess and her friends do hit walls in their research that initially seem insurmountable, they might have been made to work harder to overcome them, and left with some unanswered questions.

Nonetheless, I found Jess an interesting, strong-willed, and sympathetic character who exemplifies how, at 18, you can be surprisingly mature in some ways, but still very much a child in others.

For example, her mother’s death has clearly forced her to grow up very quickly, and she’s very sensible when it comes to things like her budding relationship with Lukas, and delaying starting university; but she can nonetheless be stroppy and impetuous, and still very much needs older adults to look after her sometimes.

Echoes of Drowning is a quick, compelling read.

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About Alice Violett

Writer of blogs and short stories, reader of books, player of board games, lover of cats, editor of web content, haver of PhD.

Colchester, UK