The House In The Water by Victoria Darke


The House In The Water by Victoria Darke is a marvellous dual timeline novel that I just could not put down. It is set in 1943 and 2013. The chapters alternate between the two time periods. The war years are told by a mixture of letters and narration. The house is the key on which everything hangs.

In 1943 the house is used by the army to treat soldiers who are battle scarred. “Their scars might be invisible, but they are no less real.” Today we would recognize PTSD but not in 1943. There were some very primitive methods used to treat mental illness, including electric shock therapy. These poor men received brutal treatment. Mental illness was not understood.

We also meet a nurse who is battling her own demons. She also has PTSD but shockingly “the army is not interested in treating women, even those who almost died in an enemy attack.”

The action in 1943 is seen through the nurse’s eyes. We get to know her intimately. She is kind and she is brave.

In present day events are seen through the eyes of a young woman. She is grieving the loss of two babies after failed IVF, and also her parents were killed in a road traffic accident. The house on the island is her project. She wants to bring it back to life, and in doing so, she wants to return herself to life.

Community life in a village is not all it’s cracked up to be. Plans for renovation are greeted with hostility. Not everyone is as they first seem.

The house hides secrets within its walls and grounds. Is it a vivid imagination? Or are there troubled souls from the past walking around?

Within the tale, there are elements of the gothic tradition, with old houses, fog, rising waters, stormy weather and more. The readers pulse rate rises as we are committed to following the action. The house on the island really isn’t a place to be as darkness descends.

All the characters were well drawn and realistic. There were definitely characters with evil intent. The unmasking came as a surprise.

I thoroughly enjoyed The House In The Water. It consumed me from the start. It was the first book by Victoria Darke but I certainly hope she will write more.

I received a free copy from Rachel’s Random Resources for a blog tour. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.


The House in the Water

A secluded house. A lost notebook. A wartime secret.

1942: Young Irish nurse Ellen arrives at May Day House, tasked with helping the men there rehabilitate. But there’s something strange about the house, surrounded by water, on its own island in the Thames. And then there are the men: traumatised by their experiences of war, and subject to troubling methods in a desperate race to get them back to duty. As Ellen gets drawn into the world of May Day House, she starts to realise this will be no place to hide away from her own troubles…

2013: Philip and Meredith are the proud new owners of May Day House. Following a string of tragedies, the couple have moved to the area in search of a new start. But all is not what it seems in the riverside community. As their plans for the rundown house meet resistance from the neighbours, Meredith finds herself slowly unravelling: she hears voices on the water, sees figures where there can be no one there. When she finds an old notebook from the war, she seeks solace in the stories about the former patients of the island.

But will shadows from the past threaten her future happiness – and even her life?

Purchase Links –

Author Bio –

Victoria began her working life as a broadcast journalist at the BBC, before moving into the freelance world. She’s worked for outlets including the Telegraph, Time Out and Al Jazeera, and spent six-years living and working in Qatar. Nowadays she balances novel writing with lecturing in journalism at Kingston University.

Victoria is the author of three novels writing as Victoria Scott – Patience, Grace and The Women Who Wouldn’t Leave. Patience, her debut, was the Booksellers’ Association Book of the Month.

Her first book for Boldwood will be a dual timeline historic suspense novel, writing as Victoria Darke. The House In The Water will be published in May 2024.

She lives on an island in the Thames with her husband and two children and a cat called Alice.

Social Media Links –  




Newsletter Sign Up:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.