The Drowning Kind

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Published by: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Pages: 336
ISBN13: 978-1982153922


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us.


"This streamlined supernatural thriller is built on gifted storytelling and has the atmosphere of a fireside ghost tale, woven with strands of longing and regret.”

"The Drowning Kind is satisfying on every level: Marvelously chilling, elegantly written, a true page-turner. I couldn’t wait to get to the end; I also wanted to savor every page. Jennifer McMahon is a master of mood.”
Janelle Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Things and Watch Me Disappear

"McMahon has a gift for creating creepy atmosphere and letting spooky suggestions linger in the mind. She’s also adept at weaving legends and stories into the fabric of what feels like real life, because her characters are so believably vulnerable. For best results, read it on a dark and stormy night—in a well-lit room, far away from the water.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Past and present, the real and the imaginary intertwine like ribbons on a maypole in this beautifully haunting story of familial love and loss. For those who crave magic in their everyday lives, Jennifer McMahon will make you believe."
Alma Katsu, author of The Deep


Audiobook Excerpt


July 18, 2000

“The dead have nothing to fear,” Lexie said.

The two of us treaded water, lips blue, teeth chattering.

My sister wore her new light-blue bikini, the color of the sky, and I had on one of her hand-me-downs, the fabric so worn that it was sheer in places.

“So when we play the Dead Game, we keep our eyes open, no matter what.” Her face was as serious as serious got. “Swear it? Swear you’ll keep them open?”

I nodded.

“Even if you see Rita?” she asked.

“Shut up, Lex.”

“She’s down there, you know. She’s waiting for us.”

“Shut up!” I swam away from her, closer to the edge of the pool.

She laughed, shook her head. “Don’t be such a chicken.” Then she seemed to feel bad, to take pity on me maybe; to remember I was only nine. She put out her hand, pointer finger extended. “Come on,” she called. I swam back to her, reached out, crossed her finger with my own. “The X girls,” she said.

“Now and forever,” I finished. Then we hooked our fingers together, squeezed, and let go.

“If she comes for one of us, she’ll have to take us both,” Lexie said.


“On three,” she said. “One. Two. Keep your eyes open, Jax. I’ll know if you cheat.”

I took the deepest breath I could.


We put our faces under and floated, suspended in the dark water like twins in the womb.