Deep Water (Sarah Epstein, A&U)
Sarah Epstein’s latest young adult thriller is equipped with enough intrigue and twists to rival any adult or international title in the genre. Deep Water is a captivating, character-driven mystery that proves, alongside her award-winning debut Small Spaces, Epstein has the writing chops when it comes to small-town suspense. With multiple points of view that shift back and forth in time, the novel is engaging and clear enough to sustain the reader’s interest. From the beginning, we’re right alongside frustrated protagonist Chloe, angry antihero Mason, and their missing friend and brother Henry, scared to blink in case we miss a clue. A slew of well-developed supporting characters also play integral roles. The story’s strength lies in the gaps: the unsaid, the ‘what ifs?’ and the secrets. Epstein is an expert in the well-paced unravelling of a mystery, and this novel is filled with edge-of-your-seat tension. The psychological narrative pushes its characters to dark places; these teenagers have the weight of the world on their shoulders, and the toll it takes on them can be exhausting to read. But ultimately, there is peace to be found in the gut-wrenching conclusion. Deep Water is sure to cause a stir among readers.
Karys McEwen is the library manager at Prahran and Richmond High School and the president of the CBCA VIC Branch