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Book Review: Dark Water by Chynna Laird

Sixteen-year-old Freesia Worth should be enjoying her summer break, not looking for her missing mother. Almost a year ago, Tamara went missing. Unwilling to admit the likely truth that her mother is deceased, Freesia takes on the mission of finding her.

Having lost her father in a peace-keeping mission in Afghanistan, Freesia is desperate to find her mother, who was last seen at Hawk Lake, the location of the family’s yearly summer retreat and Tamara’s favorite place in the whole world. As a psychologist, Tamara counseled many soldiers who served with James and suffered from PTSD. And with the police getting ready to close their investigation, Freesia understands that if she wants to find any last clues to her mother’s disappearance, the lake is the best place to look.

It isn’t long before her hopes turn to resignation as she uncovers clues that something horrible happened to her mother and that one of the men her father called a friend is likely involved. As Freesia wades deeper into the mystery, she becomes intertwined with a supernatural being and a deadly killer.

The supernatural elements within this novel greatly enhance the mystery. Readers not only get a great “whodunit” but also a paranormal twist in the legend of “The Watcher,” a First Nation man who is the guardian of Hawk Lake and of all those who love it. The Watcher also helps souls seeking retribution, vengeance for the misdeeds of evildoers.

The Watcher leads a mysterious gothic girl to reveal the fragmented clues Freesia needs to unravel the disappearance of her mother. As this girl plants the “seeds” of justice, the more difficult the book is to put down!

Dark Water brings awareness to two important disorders, PTSD and SPD. Several characters within the novel have post-traumatic stress disorder, and the author sympathetically showcases the suffering of these men, haunted by images no one should see. Freesia develops compassion for the often-frightening behavior of the men in her father’s former unit, and here Laird’s strength leads the reader carefully through the torture these men and their families endure.

At the same time, Sage, Freesia’s eight-year-old sister, has been diagnosed with SPD, sensory processing disorder. Sage hasn’t spoken since her mother’s disappearance and only truly connects with Freesia, who must patiently help Sage communicate what she’s seen and heard. Just as Tamara fought for the PTSD soldiers that she counseled, Freesia fights to bring her sister back in order to unlock the secrets buried within her.

A blue sweatshirt, a pair of broken sunglasses, a strange girl, and a mystery worthy of a television drama, Dark Water will captivate and intrigue mystery-lovers and paranormal fans alike.