Blood & Water is the story of four generations of men in the Fischer family, all of whom are lobster fishermen on the coast of Maine. For the most part, the book focuses on the life of Michael.
As a child, Michael lives with his parents and his blind grandfather near the wharf where the family's fishing boat is docked. Both of Michael's parents work to support the family, but money is still tight and they struggle to make ends meet. Michael doesn't believe that his father Elliot is doing enough to protect the family's fishing territory and lobster traps. After months of frustration, Michael finally reaches a breaking point with his father and starts an argument that leads to Elliot having a heart attack. Unfortunately, the two men are on the boat at the time, and Michael is not able to get his father to shore in time to save his life.
At Elliot's funeral, Michael removes something from his father's casket. From this point on, Elliot's ghost begins making appearances in Michael's life. It isn't quite clear to the reader if Elliot is showing up to help or hurt Michael, because he actually winds up doing both. Tragedy and death follow Michael throughout his life, and his brief moments of happiness are riddled with fear.
Eventually, Michael gets married and becomes a father to a son named Lucky. Michael is terrified of losing his son, and the threat of the ghost is always present. If he returns the item he took from his father, will the haunting finally stop?
Although this book is considered paranormal, the ghost does not have a lot of page time. Elliot shows up 4-5 times visually in the story, generally followed by the death of someone in Michael's life, and the rest of the time his presence is more cerebral.
In terms of writing style, Blood & Water reminded me of books like The Pearl or The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. There is a long series of tragic events in the life of the main character, all brought on by a single decision that affects the rest of his life. Like Steinbeck's writing, there is a lesson to learn at the end of this dark story. The characters are searching for more in their lives, only to wind up exactly where they started.
I couldn't help myself from wanting to find out how this story would be resolved, so it definitely kept my interest; it was hard to put down. But, as absorbed as I was in Michael's life, I found myself feeling increasingly depressed by his circumstances and the constant tragedy surrounding him. Back to my Steinbeck comparison, I felt the same way while reading the two stories of his that I listed above. Because reading is an escape for me, I tend to prefer books that are not quite so emotionally draining. I like to have some element of hope, adventure or romance to offset the feeling of a downward spiral. This book did not give me any of the positives that I look for.
I also think this author would benefit greatly from having another editor take a look at his book. It wasn't typos or spelling that was an issue, it was more about punctuation and sentence structure. It is a perfect contender for Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves punctuation books. I thought this was worth mentioning for those of you who feel strongly about editing issues.