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Review of Taking on Water by David Rawding

See full issue for 2015 11-23
by Candi Sary

The Rundown

Domestic violence and drug trafficking set off the action in David Rawding’s novel Taking on Water. James and Maya Morrow live in the small coastal town of Newborough, New Hampshire, a community with an ongoing drug problem. James is a social worker. He also volunteers at the town’s recreation center where he meets Kevin Flynn, a teen who shows signs of being abused. James spends some time with the boy’s father, Tucker, to investigate the possibility of abuse. He clears Tucker of suspicion and an unlikely friendship forms.

Maya, a Newborough detective, also becomes involved with the recreation center when a boy dies there of an overdose. Maya is determined to get to the bottom of it, but the good detective and the well-intentioned social worker find themselves up against the wrong kind of people.

Rawding thoroughly brings the small town to life with his descriptions of lobster fishing and coastal living. He conveys an authentic feel to the bar where the local fishermen hang out. The novel’s setting is vivid and charming. Rawding takes great care with his wording, and crafts detailed sentences. He is clearly a skilled writer when it comes to language, but oftentimes loses the story in heavy details.

The first half of the book unfolds slowly. Scenes are over-described at times and the story is not very fluid. The power of the sentence seems to trump storyline and pace. The characters are interesting, but not always realistic. Given their disturbing and tragic roles, they are at least memorable. Action picks up in the second half of the book and the storyline is much stronger than the first half. The second half contains enough intrigue, intensity and dark plot twists to keep readers turning the pages. Once immersed, readers will want to know what happens in the end.

The Recommendation

Taking on Water is for those who enjoy a novel that takes them so deep into a setting that it feels like they’re actually there. Readers with enough patience to get through a sluggish first half will find a captivating finish.

The Rating Reviewer Rating: 3.5 Stars

3.5 Stars (out of 5): Pretty good. For the right audience, this could be great. Sure, there were some issues, but it was still worth the read.

The Pros & Cons

Pros: Page Turner, Strong World-Building, Surprise Ending
Cons: Plot Sometimes Jumpy, Starts slow, Wordy

The Links

More about Taking on Water on UBR

The Reviewer

Candi Sary

Candi Sary is the author of Black Crow White Lie, a shortlist finalist in the William Faulkner William Wisdom Writing Competition and semifinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Sary lives in coastal Southern California with her husband and three dogs now that her kids are grown. She can often be found surfing and paddle boarding in the waters of Newport Beach.

Visit Candi Sary‘s website.

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