Deep Water is Sarah Epstein’s second novel, a YA thriller like her debut, Small Spaces. Thirteen-year-old Henry Weaver has been missing from The Shallows in NSW’s Southern Highlands since a catastrophic storm blew through, flooding the town and causing a landslide over the main highway that the year before had been closed because of bushfires.

Chloe Baxter, Henry’s closest friend, is doing everything she can to find him, because sh’’s not convinced he was washed away in the flood. Mason Weaver, Henry’s older brother, just wants to escape The Shallows and their abusive alcoholic mother, but is hindered at every turn by his circumstances and lack of options. Chloe suspects that Mason’s increasingly violent outbursts might be responsible for Henry being missing, but can she convince the rest of their friends that he might be responsible?

I absolutely devoured Small Spaces, so I was excited to find that Epstein’s second thriller also demonstrates her skills in maintaining excellent tension, well-written adolescent characters, and an unexpected ending that ties up all loose ends. The Shallows is a very recognisable small country town full of interesting characters, secrets, suspicions, good neighbours, bad eggs, and a group of young people gradually coming of age and the complications that come with it.

Deep Water is an excellent read for lovers of both thrillers and YA novels, with strong features of both that blend seamlessly into a brilliant second novel.

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