book review, horror, Middle Grade

Dark Waters by Katherine Arden

It’s been over six months since the events of Halloween when Ollie, Coco and Brian first met The Smiling Man, and over three since their second run in with him after Christmas. Terrified of meeting him again, the three friends have hit the books in the hope of finding a way to get him out of their lives for good.

When Coco’s mother invites them, and Ollie’s dad, to a day on a sailing boat on Lake Champlain, they jump at the chance for some R&R. However, with lake monsters, pirates, and a mysterious island turning their pleasant day on the lake into a nightmare, it seems there is no rest for the wicked.

I enjoyed the first two books in this series, Small Spaces and Dead Voices, so I was eager to read Dark Waters. Unfortunately, I found it disappointing.

This book is told from Brian’s point of view, which I liked as he disappeared for most of the second half of Dead Voices. I hoped to learn more about him, but I found his point of view rather flat, lacking satisfying character development. I’m not sure why this book couldn’t have shared points of view with Brian, Coco and Ollie. Especially as the reader is cheated out of so much by keeping close to Brian, I think the book would have benefitted from sharing the POV between the three children.

One of things I liked so much about the other books was the allusions to mythology and literature. When Dark Waters started off with the black spot, I was hoping for lots of nods to Treasure Island, but while there were mention of pirates later on, it wasn’t explored to my satisfaction.

As a huge fan of cryptids, setting the action on Lake Champlain and mentioning Champy, the lake monster, had me excited for some good lake monster action. Especially with that cover! Wow! A huge angler fish/eel like hybrid lurking below a boat. I expected creepy, middle grade horror in line with the first two books.

Again, I was disappointed. I didn’t get any spooky moments, and the lake monster turns into a large silver snake with a pink month, which I didn’t find threatening at all.

Worst of all is that this book ends abruptly on a cliff hanger. 20% of the ebook (which is no longer available on Amazon) was chapters from Small Spaces. The whole book read like the opening to the fourth book, and I felt cheated.

Over all, I felt Dark Waters was filled with potential, and I enjoyed spending time with Ollie, Coco and Brian again, even if the day on the lake was a bit of a damp squib.

I award Dark Waters

Dark Waters is available $14.99 hardcover on Amazon.

Click here to read my read and rant with Jonathan Pongratz!

Click here to read his review of Dark Waters.


Click on the names below to read my reviews of the other books in the series.

Small Spaces

Dead Voices

Click on the names below to read my buddy reads with Jonathan Pongratz.

Small Spaces buddy read.

Dead Voices buddy read and rant.

12 thoughts on “Dark Waters by Katherine Arden”

  1. Thank you for reminding me of the Halloween coming up. I always read one or two spooky books for the time leading up to Halloween. I guess you are not really recommending this book, but I will find something else.

    Liked by 2 people

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