Book Review: Still Waters by Emma Carlson Berne

417TkJ9gbILTitle: Still Waters
Author: Emma Carlson Berne
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery and Suspense, Thriller, Romance
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: December 20th 2011
Rating: 2,5 stars
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Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Hannah can’t wait to sneak off for a romantic weekend with her boyfriend, Colin. He’s leaving for college soon, and Hannah wants their trip to the lake house to be one they’ll never forget.
But once Hannah and Colin get there, things start to seem a bit…off. They can’t find the town on any map. The house they are staying in looks as if someone’s been living there, even though it’s been deserted for years. And Colin doesn’t seem quite himself. As he grows more unstable, Hannah worries about Colin’s dark side, and her own safety.
Nothing is as perfect as it seems, and what lies beneath may haunt her forever.

Still Waters is a typical example of a great concept that just doesn’t deliver. When I got my hands on this book, I thought it would go somewhat like this: two people go on a supposed romantic getaway to a lake house, remote and desolate, only to find out that the place is haunted. It could either be haunted by a trauma in the past working on both of them, making them become like different people alltogether, or it could be actual ghosts. Doesn’t even matter to me. And the story starts out promising enough. The moment Hannah finds a picture of Pine House on Colin’s attic, he starts behaving awkwardly. Even someone with a half a brain can figure out from point one that Pine House is bad news. Whatever happened there years ago, it’s still got Colin spooked. Hannah gets this stupid idea that she and Colin need to go on a romantic getaway to…you guessed it right. Pine House. Although she knows her boyfriend has a problem with that house, she chooses to go behind his back, break into his house, steal the map to Pine House, and then lure him on a secret trip, which actually leads to the one place he doesn’t want to visit. Talk about love and care!

The road leading to Pine House is surprisingly desolate, and the nearest by town is miles away. Here I was going on wild goose chases and imagining a town filled with zombies pretending to be acutal people or worse still, an entire ghost town, but turns out that’s just my imagination. In fact, the only one who has any real troubles since they arrive at Pine House is Colin. I was under the impression that this novel would at least feature some kind of spirit occupying Pine House. Moving objects, eerie noises in the middle of the night, ghostly apparitions. Granted, they may be cliché, but they’re interesting, intriguing, creepy. All I got now was a lousy background story and a traumatized teenager going crazy. Yes…I’m not impressed.

The potential was just dripping off this novel. That’s always my number on pet peeve. I get so agitated when I see works with great potential that are destroyed because of stupid plot twists, uncompelling storylines or boring characters. Here it’s a mix of both. I was eagerly anticipated the true scary throughout the entire book, and it never came. It left me feeling…cheated, somehow. The novel doesn’t pretend to be paranormal, but I was somehow under the impression that it was. This is just a contemporary though, and our resident bad guy is nothing more than a boy suffering from severe trauma. No ghosts. No spirits. Just mental issues. Not exactly my kind of thing.

Hannah is a boring character as well. She can’t tell her boyfriend that she loves him, even if it’s clear to the reader and everyone else on the face of this planet that she does. And who wouldn’t? I mean, Colin is a saint for putting up with that woman, who drags him out on a surprise trip to the place he hates the most. The ending is just one major dissapointment. Talk about anticlimax. The only thing that’s outstanding about this book is the author’s writing style. But it’s not very original, it’s not very scary, and over all it’s just not very good.

If you’re not a fan of the horror genre, but you do enjoy a light-weight thriller, you might enjoy this book. It doesn’t even appear on my scary radar, but it does have some elements of a thriller. If you’re a fan of contemporary romances, then this one’s for you as well. If however you’re like me, and you were hoping to read an exciting thriller that would made your heart skip a couple of beats occassionally, then you have the wrong book. Still Waters is good for what it is, but it can’t pretend to be anything else. And it’s definitely not original. This plot has been done over and over again. As I already said, if it was well-executed and the story was well-developed, I wouldn’t mind. But it isn’t, so I do mind. I will however keep an eye out for this autor, because I enjoy her descriptive writing style.

This book counts towards the Mystery and Suspense Challenge and the Young Adult Contemporary Challenge.


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