The island of Galveston is a strange kind of American microcosm, existing both as its own slightly warped little world and as an important thread in the national fabric. It’s Texas but not Texas; tourist-filled and welcoming, yet uniquely distant; and always dangerously close to natural disaster. Elizabeth Black sets her spellbinding debut novel, a story of secrets, loss and the redemptive power of truth, against this compelling backdrop.

Clare is a celebrated New York photographer whose life crumbles in the wake of tragedy. When an invitation to stage an exhibit of her work promises to take her back to Galveston, her hometown, Clare relishes the chance to escape the stifling world of her married life. But back home, she finds old secrets stirring, and she becomes captivated with a decades-old legend of a drowned girl and what it means for her family’s own relationship with the wealthy, almost mythological Carradays of Galveston.

Black’s luxurious prose makes Galveston into a dark, fading fairy-tale world, and her descriptions of Clare’s internal strife reveal a keen insight into the human condition that eludes many more seasoned novelists. A page-turning chronicle of grief and memory, The Drowning House is a remarkable blend of human drama and satisfyingly Southern Gothic mystery, propelled by Black’s lyrical, haunting narration.

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