Dark Wood Dark Water

Callaghan’s début novel delves into the supernatural goings on in the Irish town of Bailey. The story follows three teenagers Josh, Kate and Gabe who each lose a loved one to the water. Forming an unlikely alliance with historian Naylor, they work together to uncover the centuries-old evil in their hometown.

The dark opening sets up a sense of tension that never eases throughout the book. Clearly inspired by elements of folklore and history, the intertwining of past and present works well and is a high point of the novel. Common horror tropes together laced with subtle elements of Irish myths and colloquialisms leave you on the edge of your seat.

Callaghan is an established horror writer, but at times the storytelling is hampered by a very ambitious story made up of multiple strands forced to resolve in under 300 pages. The fast pace leaves no time for exploring every supernatural element or character in Bailey, and as a result the plot is not always coherent. With more time and space, Callaghan’s story would have thrived.

Not for the faint hearted. Young adult and adult.