What happens when you mix a family tragedy with a youthful indiscretion and then place it all against the backdrop of shabby-chic Galveston, Texas?

A pretty addictive read, or what?s also known as Houston resident Elizabeth Black?s debut novel, The Drowning House.

You don?t have to be BOI (born on the island) to understand the inherently eerie Galveston qualities on which Black capitalizes: Isolated from the mainland and with a muggy, provincial environment, it?s a place that still holds fast to the grandeur of its golden era (think stately Victorian homes), before the Great Hurricane of 1900 devastated much of its landscape.

Our present-day heroine, Clare Porterfield, is a childhood ne?er-do-well who has grown up to become a successful photographer. She returns to her hometown to curate a local art exhibition and at once becomes entranced with a decades-old mystery surrounding the death of a prominent resident during that storm in 1900. At the same time, she comes to terms with her own personal tragedy.

A refreshing take on the much-trodden Southern Gothic territory, the story is disarmingly seductive.

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