When I heard that there was a new imprint of Blackbird Digital Books, I couldn't help but get excited. I had previously read, and raved about, the exceptional debut Valentina by S.E. Lynes and the hauntingly beautiful Homecoming by Tanya Bullock, both published by Blackbird. With such quality already in their catalogue, I think perhaps that Blackbird and Nightingale are quite selective about what they publish which can only be a good thing for us readers. In my opinion, Nightingale could not have made a better choice than Dark Water for their launch.
With a strapline of 'Friendship doesn't die, it waits...' I immediately knew that I was going to love this book. It seems to be such a sinister message about friendship so I couldn't wait to delve into Dark Water. Helena Chambers wished that she didn't have to return to Orkney, her childhood home, but her father has taken ill. Helena's return coincides with her school reunion but with her best friend, Anastasia, absent she has no interest in going. Helena and Anastasia were inseparable at school until Anastasia went missing under mysterious circumstances and her body was never found. With only an empty grave to visit, Helena can never get closure and she sees the ghost of Anastasia everywhere she turns when she returns to Orkney. What really happened to Anastasia? Does anybody know?
Dark Water doesn't claim to be a psychological thriller so don't expect a multitude of twists and turns, but it is a very good psychological novel. It creeps under your skin from the very first page and lulls you into a false sense of security, then BAM! reality hits, SMACK! Helena cracks and POW! the sucker punch is delivered. With my brain reeling, I had to sit and take stock for a few minutes after finishing this book. There is so much history embedded in this story that I now know a lot more about Orkney than I previously did; when I finished Dark Water I wanted to pack a bag and head off to Orkney to see the Churchill Barriers for myself.
An absolutely superb debut, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Dark Water and look forward to more outstanding books from both Sara Bailey and Nightingale Editions.
I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.