The Drowning

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

“Every seven years, a boy disappears from Camp Waukeelo. Who will be next?”

A campfire on a summer night wouldn’t be complete without a creepy urban legend. John Otis —  the story of a man man who snatches a boy every seven years from that exact campground leaves an eerie vibe. The very next day after the story is told to campers, a boy named Joey Procter goes missing. And Alex Parson was one of the last few people to have seen him. Twenty one years later and Alex’s past seems to have come back to haunt him,  seeking revenge.

This was a quick, interesting, and suspenseful read. I enjoyed the nostalgia of a summer camp setting and a good horror story. The only thing I didn’t like was the ending. It felt a little rushed and I didn’t like how the reader is left to interpret what happened. Overall, this was a 4/5 for me!
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The story around the campfire at the boys’ summer camp is about a man named John Otis, who lives somewhere in the woods and snatches a boy from camp ever seven years. What does he do to the boy once he’s kidnapped him? The endless speculation keeps the boys up at night, especially when eight-year-old Joey does in fact go missing. 

Arrogant camp counselor Alex is frustrated that Joey still hasn’t learned to swim by the end of the summer. He leaves Joey in a raft and tells him that if he wants to come back, he’ll have to swim. Alex forgets about Joey until it’s revealed that the kid is missing. Alex feels bad, but when divers can’t find the body in the lake, it suggests that he didn’t drown. Joey must have wandered off or been snatched. By John Otis or someone else.

Twenty-one years later Alex is married to a beautiful woman and has a hugely successful real estate investment firm. Yes, he inherited it from his wealthy parents, but he’s also grown the brand. Alex is exactly the kind of person it’s very easy not to like. Even the charity he does is really to enhance the brand of his business. Even so, I started having some sympathy for him when so many weird things begin happening to him that threaten to destroy his family and his business and it all seems to be about his decision to leave Joey on that raft. Is Joey still alive after all? 

This is a fun, quick read. It’s not the best I’ve read because I don’t love any characters and therefore there is no one to root for, but the ending has a satisfying twist. 

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this novel.
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What a page turner; I had to stay up late to finish this very realistic novel. Every action/non-action will cause something else. This lesson is definitely born out in this book.

At the end I could only think "how twisted and sad". Definitely a good read but a tragic story..
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‘Joey must have moved the moment the shutter opened. Because his face, out of all the others, was slightly blurred. As if he were already existing in another time, midway between life and death.’

Alex Mason has everything he ever wanted. He’s a successful, well-respected, property developer – a self-made man, living in a million dollar home, with his beautiful blonde wife, and two adoring daughters. But someone is intent on destroying Alex’s ‘picture perfect’ life. Because Alex has a secret – one in particular that could ruin him if it ever became public. Twenty-one years ago, when he was working as a swimming counsellor at Camp Waukeelo, he challenged his campers to swim out to a raft, and back. When eight year-old, Joey Proctor, unable to swim, and deathly afraid of deep water, refused, Alex dragged him out to the raft, and told him that his only way back was to toughen up and swim. Then, he left him there, alone in the middle of the lake. And that was the last time Joey Proctor was ever seen. Or, was it?

There’s nothing quite like a good revenge story. This was a sinfully delicious read from start to finish. But, it was the ending that really stood out – talk about clever! You got me, J. P. Smith, well played! I’m still theorising over it. But, and this is a big but, you were left with questions and ambiguity, which may not sit well with some readers. I thought it was brilliant! I’m kicking myself that I didn’t figure it out earlier, as the clues were there.

When the harassment towards Alex first started, I liked how the 'scares' resembled childlike pranks, like something an actual eight year-old would do, as if, 'if' it were really Joey behind it, then he hadn’t aged a day since he disappeared – gave me chills! The telling of the campfire legend in the opening chapter, bouncing from one camp counsellor to another, at different points in the tale, was ingenious and creepy. 

Alex was an arrogant, self-centered, despicable character, who felt little remorse or responsibility for his part in Joey’s disappearance, believing his only crime was forgetting Joey for a few hours, and that whatever happened to the boy after that point was not his fault. Not only that, when he’s first threatened, it takes him a while to even recall what he did to Joey as a possible reason for someone wanting to harm him. There are advantages to novels where the revenge directed at the protagonist is well-deserved. I couldn’t help relishing what was in store Alex, and anticipating how far things were going to escalate, and what Alex’s reactions would be. But, there were some tense and worrying moments, involving Alex’s wife, and daughters, characters I definitely cared about, and didn’t want to see harmed. 

I wasn’t overly fond of the dream-like writing style in Part 1 (the chapters set at camp). I understand why it was intended to be purposely vague, and ominous, but I thought it was too rushed. For example, the scene where Alex and Joey have their altercation in the water, ending with Joey being left on the raft, it’s unclear what happened to the other campers? All of a sudden, it’s just the two of them. The other kids must’ve gone back to camp, but it didn’t seem like enough time had passed for them to complete their own swims out to the raft, pack up, and leave. I needed that extra detail to properly visualise events. There were also instances where it was unclear which characters were present in a scene, and who was speaking. Chapter 6 had me swiping back several pages to make sense of one part. I did figure it out, but only on my third read through. This only applies to Part 1 (the first 12%) – I had no issues with how the rest of the book was written.

Recommended to those who enjoying their mystery/suspense with a dose of surrealism.

I'd like to thank Netgalley, Sourcebooks Landmark, and J.P. Smith for the opportunity to read, and review, a digital copy of this book.

Review posted on Goodreads, Instagram, Amazon, and Auckland NZLisaM
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Ok, so this book was good, it just became a huge letdown at the end. You’re thrown all of this stuff that can be used as great twists for the ending and then you see what is going to be the twist a mile away, but are still thrown little breadcrumbs where the twist could have its own twist, but nope. No extra twist. No true resolution. Nothing. It’s not suspenseful enough to even be called a cliffhanger ending. Just an incomplete one. Trust me, there are ways the twist could have been twisted that then would have made this a standout, but instead the author just gave us the twist we saw right away and added nothing from the breadcrumb clues we were fed throughout the book. It’s a bunch of words and loose ends. Too bad too because there truly was big potential. The potential is probably the reason why 2 stars instead of just giving it 3 because with so much potential wasted, it makes me even more disappointed in this book.
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Another one of those novels that makes you become emotional! And definitely wanting to read more of it... this novel was filled with twists and turns and one that I did not want to stop reading. I highly recommend this to everyone! J.P. Smith did a fantastic job with the characters and plot line.
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3.5 stars

Well this was interesting and kept me turning the pages. Great idea for a story that kept you wondering.

I would have given 5 stars if the ending was different. I really don't like the idea that the readers are left to decide what happens themselves. I read a book, I want closure and it just feels like the most important part is missing from this.
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WOW! Just WOW. 
From the beginning, it was incredibly refreshing the way the story was told. The author spares us from the back and forth banter between characters and sums up the conversations. That's an automatic plus from me. 

The story starts at Camp Waukeelo where a group of boys are sitting around a campfire and the counselors are collectively telling the old legend of John Otis, an inbred man who steals a young boy away from camp every seven years. We then meet Joey, a small for his 8 years, boy whose parents are at odds with each other and it has made him unsure and diffident. He develops a relationship with a counselor and confides in him and that counselor takes him under his wing. But then we meet Alex Mason, the 18 year old swimming counselor who ignores Joey's pleads and throws him into the dark murky lake. Joey can't swim and flails until Alex finally jumps in and grabs him, except he doesn't take him back to shore, he leaves him on a raft in the middle of the lake and tells him to swim back or die, basically. Alex forgets the boy and heads back into camp. Five hours later, the boy is missing. Police search the lake and the woods but Joey is nowhere to be found. 
Fast forward 21 years, Alex is wealthy, incredibly successful, has a lovely wife and two daughters... and has forgotten all about Joey. But it seems Joey hasn't forgotten about him... 

I found myself intrigued from the beginning, but when the first instance at the Mason household came about, I was on the edge of my seat... and I stayed right there on the edge of my seat until the very last page.  I truly believed Joey was alive and torturing him for what he had done 21 years ago. But then even weirder things begin to happen and I thought maybe someone knew what happened and THEY were the ones behind it! I read a lot of suspense/thriller/mystery novels, and usually about halfway through, I know who's behind it all. This book kept me guessing. I had NO IDEA who could have been doing this. Joey or someone else?? The mind games, the intrigue... it was all so much fun to read! 
I even found myself looking over my shoulder a couple of times. Which doesn't happen to me! I can read books about real life serial killers and sleep like a baby! 
This book changed the game. I highly recommend this to fans of thrillers. It sure thrilled me! 

Then there was that ending! Ughhhh. How could you Mr. Smith? HOW COULD YOU? 
LOVED this. 4.5 out of 5. What a ride.
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Who doesn’t love a good spooky campfire story? I was wrapped up in this story right from page 1. It kept me guessing the whole time. Our main character, Alex, is kind of a jerk, but at the same time I really started to feel bad for him, and then he went off the deep end and I started to get angry at him, but then I felt bad for him again! I was on some sort of rollercoaster as I kept turning the pages.  

The story really made me contemplate the idea that the past will always catch up with you. Moral of the story is, don’t be a dick. 

This book was fun. It was a quick read, simply because I didn’t want to put it down. I really enjoyed the flow of the story, and I look forward to checking out some of J.P. Smith’s other books.
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Though this book starts a little slowly, once it grabbed my attention, I didn't want to stop reading! Lots of twists and turns I didn't see coming and interesting characters. Recommended!
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Who hasn’t heard a ghost story at camp, or when on a sleepover with friends? Normally, that’s exactly what these things are, stories, but for Joey Proctor and Alex Mason, the story becomes reality. The Drowning is cleverly shaped between the past and present, and charts the ripples and waves that occur from one thoughtless incident decades previously. It’s a clever psychological thriller that keeps the reader guessing, and that had me hooked – I devoured the book in one evening!

All in all, I enjoyed ‘The Drowning’, and especially the depiction of characters – you’re given just enough information, but also enough scope to create your own picture. I’d have loved some of the smaller characters to be developed more deeply – Stephen, for example, seemed to play a pivotal role early on and then rarely mentioned. (I suspect however that this wouldn’t have contributed hugely in terms of narrative, but would have been nice for my own indulgence!)

Likewise, I found the ending unsatisfactory, mainly in the way that Alex doesn’t seem to experience justice from his crimes (not the original incident, but ones that occur through his blind ambition to keep the past hidden), but perhaps that’s why the book is a success – the reader is given the chance to shape their own ending for the story’s protagonists. What does happen to Alex? And more importantly, what did happen to Joey? I imagine ‘The Drowning’ will be playing on my mind for a while!
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The beginning of this book is truly creepy. A group of kids sits around the fire telling ghost stories. The highlight is the tale of John Otis, who takes a camper every seven years. The next day Joey Proctor, one of those boys will be taken after his swimming counselor leaves him behind, on a raft, in a misguided attempt to teach him how to swim. This part was truly scary. The camp in the dark. The little boy, alone in the middle of the lake. Fast forward 21 years and the negligent swimming coach, who never told anybody what happened, is a successful hotelier who seems to have forgotten all about Joey. That will change with a series of dark pranks that will chip at Alex's foundation. But who’s behind them? Could it be Joey himself? Someone taking revenge in his name? I really liked that part: the legend of Joey Proctor. The speculation. The mystery. The first three quarters of the book are very suspenseful and kept me invested in the outcome of the story. As much as I disliked Alex, with his unchecked pride and apparent inability to feel guilt, I wanted to know what would happen. My problem is with the last part of the novel, after too many pointless twists that eventually lead nowhere. The book picks back up at the very end, with a surprising and original conclusion that I had not seen coming. 
I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, NetGalley/SOURCEBOOKS Landmark!
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The Drowning by J.P. Smith is definitely an interesting read. I realized right when the character was introduced that they were behind everything; however, I did not see the twist coming. It has me questioning what was “real.” 
My main complaint about the book is that sometimes there were no transitions. It would just go from one thought to the next without any break to indicate that the scene was changing. Additionally, it would flow from one characters thought to another and then back to the original character. This made it somewhat difficult to read and I had to pause briefly to work out what was happening. 
Overall, it was a quick and entertaining read and the plot line had me hooked from the beginning.
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Thank you #NetGalley for an advanced copy of #TheDrowning!

Ok so overall I thought this was a pretty good book. The pace was fast and it kept my attention. Right from the start you realize what an awful person Alex is and how the decision made by one person can cause a massive domino effect in other people’s lives. It was interesting to read about the legend of John Otis and to see how multiple characters had different opinions about the legend. Now, if you haven’t read this book I’m going to urge you to stop reading this review right now to not spoil anything.... WHAT was that ending??? I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that left me feeling so unfulfilled and unsatisfied as this one did. I was completely dumbfounded when I went to go to the next chapter, on the edge of my seat waiting to find out, finally, who has been doing everything to Alex and I was brought to “questions for my book club”!!!. While that question was answered it left so many other unanswered questions, most importantly what happened to JOEY PROCTOR???? We’re his parents involved? Seemed like unneccessary chapters reading about Joey Proctor’s mom and dad and how they dealt with the disappearance, and then not even talk about what it meant when Mrs. Proctor asked “what did we do?” That’s a good question!! What did the Proctor’s do?? I’d love to know since the book didn’t answer that for me!

So to sum up this review up, I would still recommend reading this book as it really was fascinating but be prepared for a somewhat anti-climatic ending... Hey, everyone has different tastes so maybe you’ll read this book and love it and conclude that you didn’t need answers to anything else!
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One of the best books I have ever read! 

Starts off a little slowly but then it grabs you and doesntt let go.  Ten stars for plot, writing, characters, and for keeping me up until the early hours of the morning. Just couldn't put it down.  Highly recommend!
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This was really a great book. It had a lot of twists and turns that made it eo exciting. It made you guess what was going to happen next. Love this book  I will have to read more of this author. Thank net gallery for this great opportunity to read this book
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Summer Camp - for me it was interesting as we do not do summer camps. You send children on school trips for the day and are very nervous till they return! the idea of sending them for weeks somewhere without parents is a little difficult to fathom or accept.

Joey Proctor was a little boy. Little in physique as well. Seemed to have been the ideal size for bullies. Alex Mason was the swimming coach himself just a young man. He was maybe a bit without empathy and only sought to make the boys tougher, and his one goal was that at the end of the camp he would make them swim. Whatever it took. This is what he did to Joey. He left him at the end of a raft hoping he would dive in and join the other boys. He never did. He disappeared. His body never found. Left to a ripple tide of effects felt far and wide.

We go fast forward twenty one years. Alex Mason is married, very rich, very well established in one of the biggest construction companies in his part of the world. He has two young children. Things start happening to him. His pool gets filled with blood tainted water with a slogan chiseled out at the bottom, he gets snapped feeling up a girl at a bar and the photos are sent to his wife, the locks in his so called unbreakable security system at home are broken and the intruder videos the whole family sleeping and sends it to them. All connected back to the disappearance of Joey Proctor. But, and this is a big but there are no demands. It seems like a slow process of breaking Alex Mason down. From his losing an employee (again the same swimming technique he used with Joey) because he thought the young Peter was actually Joey and then covering it up to look a suicide, to the murder of an old man on a visit to the camp who tried to insinuate that he knew exactly what had happened to the slow loss of his contracts to a competitor the whole situation breaks up both Alex and his marriage and you know this is not going to end well.
This was a creepy one because it was insidious, slow and vicious. I did not know who the perpetrator was till the end.

Good characterization. You tended to look on Alex with dislike not just because of what he did to Joey but he was callous and cold hearted and distant with everyone including his family.
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The Drowning unfolds like a cult classic scary movie you watched as a child. You are in the middle of nowhere by yourself afraid of the boogeyman. In this story he is real. Intense read till the last page.
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Thanks to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of The Drowning.

I really wanted to read this book due to the premise. Who doesn't love a good revenge tale? I do!

** Minor spoilers ahead **

Twenty one years ago, at a summer camp, a boy named Joey was left alone on a dock to swim back to shore despite the fact that he was terrified of the water. When the teenage swimming instructor, Alex, remembered Joey hours later, he returned only to find the boy was gone. Joey was never found again.

As the years pass, Joey's disappearance is attributed to a local urban legend about a demented local man who lives in the woods and preys on boys every seven years.

We flash forward to the present day where Alex is now an arrogant, affluent, and adultering piece of crap. He's a hotshot real estate developer with a gorgeous wife, two great kids and influence. What more could he want?

Then, strange things begin to happen to this egotistical buffoon; harassment, business deals falling through, vandalism, that all point to Joey as the avenging angel out for justice.

Is Joey alive? And has he returned for revenge?

As Alex tries to hold onto his business and marriage, readers are treated to flashbacks where a dedicated detective investigates the cold case of the missing boy and a father and son hunting one day make a horrific discovery.

Alex probes into the camp's origins and what may have happened to Joey when he stumbles across a filmmaker working on a documentary about the camp, mainly Joey's disappearance and the local legend.

As events continue to unfold and the harassment becomes more pointed and harsher, Alex begin to lose his grip on reality, making ridiculous and callous decisions that call into question his sanity.

I love revenge stories, and this one wasn't bad. 

Alex is no saint; actually, he doesn't have many redeeming qualities except for being good at his job, but that doesn't absolve him of his many, many flaws.

A heads up for those who don't like ambiguity and loose ends, you may not like The Drowning.

There are a lot of loose ends; not so much red herrings but nothing is fully explained or resolved and you wonder if the author threw these tidbits of information as a tease.

Is he trying to psych us out or Alex?

I don't mind ambiguity because, let's be real, sometimes life is ambiguous. 

There are many unexplained events, disappearances, deaths, and sometimes, the real culprits are never caught, never brought to justice or we are left with measly bits of information that never paints a clear picture of what happened and everything remains unsolved.

This is that sort of book.

The author leaves us with these possibilities:

1. Is the detective real or not?

2. What is the significance of the grisly discovery made by the father and son hunters?

3. Is the urban legend real?

4. Who is that creepy local man Alex meets at the diner?

5. Does that creepy local have anything to do with Joey's disappearance?

There were a few moments of disbelief suspension that skewed very close to the borderline for me but I played along since Alex was teetering on the edge of a mental breakdown by that point.

Besides, he basically left a boy alone on a raft. Wouldn't he be capable of committing horrendous acts?

I guessed the twist and the villain reveal; its not difficult. The author gives a clue midway through the book that makes it pretty obvious who the culprit could be.

The conclusion is satisfying in that a revenge tale ends when the bad guy gets his comeuppance. 

Loose threads can dangle; I just want Alex to get his just desserts and it was sweet.
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Great premise but not the story I expected. It had a lot going on, multiple plot lines, and mainly despicable characters. It wraps up with some things unresolved. There is a decent story here and the writing is actually very good it maybe just tackled too much. I would try more by this author. 

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and SOURCEBOOKS Landmark for a copy in exchange for a review.
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