H0oT #42 Surface Tension

Cassie is more than a little obsessed with Old Lower Grange, the town which was submerged on the day she was born, eight weeks premature. Her parents and two older siblings have memories and tell stories of their old house and the old town, but Cassie feels left out, missing out on history. 

Because of her premature arrival, Cassie's lungs aren't great and she swims laps in the local pool to help them strengthen. But the floating bandaids and other kids doing bombies don't make for peaceful swimming. Her preoccupation with the "Atlantis" nature of Old Lower Grange and disgust for the pool combine to drive her to the lake. There she certainly finds much more than a place to swim in peace.

Meg McKinlay constructs Cassie and the narrative skillfully, drawing together her bravery with the symbolism of the drowned town and submerged secrets. The descriptions of the lake and drowned town are poetic, and quite eerie in places.

I like that there is the potential for romance between Cassie and Liam, a boy whose tragic past is connected to the secret in the lake, but that their friendship is what is concentrated on here.

There are the usual problems in New Lower Grange; as a small town most people know everyone else and their history. There are suggestions of covering up the past in rewriting history to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the town, leaving out the protests about the flooding for example.
There are also some lovely connections in the sub-plots with Cassie's father's art and her sister's job on the local council both having a direct influence on the outcome. McKinlay uses the motif of problems simmering just beneath the surface throughout the text:
"A heavy red glaze could cover a network of tiny hairline fractures that would shatter something utterly if you struck it hard enough in just the right spot.”

Readers who enjoy a bit of mystery and suspense will race through to the satisfying finish, just as I did. Cassie is a gutsy, believable character, you'll find yourself cheering her on.

Four hoots from five.

Happy tales,
Barking Owl


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