Book Review: Birds in the Black Water by Kodie Van Dusen


Title: Birds in the Black Water

Author: Kodie Van Dusen

Release date: September 22, 2022

Huge thanks to Kodie for sending me a digital copy of this novel!

I’m always keen to discover and see what other Canadian authors are creating, and especially love it when they’re new-to-me authors!

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one. The synopsis holds this line; ‘Neviah has seen the Other Side since she was a child, a dark world trapped somewhere between past and present where shadowy creatures ominously keep watch.’ I mean, c’mon! If that line doesn’t have you excited to dive in, I don’t know what will. I’m a huge fan of portal horror, whether characters physically entering into another realm or able to travel there subconsciously, so knowing that was a potential, I was ready to go!

What I liked: The novel follows our main character, Neviah, who struggles with her life following the death of her brother. The two were linked together, as siblings and creatively and now, her relationship with her mom is at an all-time low and she holds her family at a distance.

One thing you should know going in is this line here, also in the synopsis; ‘Birds in the Black Water is dark, paranormal drama at its best.’ Paranormal drama is a spot on description of this one. Don’t expect buckets of blood, gore central and rapid fire scenes. Instead, Van Dusen takes her time moving the chess pieces across the board.

The novel itself is drenched with grief and sorrow (especially considering the introduction of the ‘why’ this book was written) and that sentiment will definitely create a number of lumps to grow in the readers throat. At times, this book is frankly devastating, a kick to the heart and a kick to the shins.

The ending works really nicely, seeing a number of questions answered and giving us the briefest glimpse of sunlight.

What I didn’t like: It did take a bit longer than I expected to kind of get into Neviah and what she can do/what happens around her. I would’ve loved it if we opened with a bang and then had a conservative return to it, just so we know what is coming and what it is we’re in for.

Why you should buy this: While ‘Birds in the Black Water’ is a somber affair, it is really elegantly written and moves along at a respectable pace, not too fast and not too slow. We get to really learn these characters and determine so much about why they do things and what it is they’re willing to do, or how far they’re willing to go.

This was such a solid, emotional filled novel.


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