Thicker Than Water by Rachel McLean #BookReview #BlogBlitz

Six years after floods made her family homeless, Jess Dyer has found safety on the wild North Yorkshire coast. Her sister-in-law Ruth is forging a role as doctor to their community of refugees and the rock around which the family revolves.
But the family is haunted by memories of the journey north and the loss of their mother Sonia. And their community is under attack from the local population.
When Jess answers a distress call at sea, she brings strangers to their village and puts Ruth in jeopardy. Jess must calm the community, mount a rescue mission and keep her brother Ben from tipping into insanity.
Will she succeed? And will she find Ruth before it’s too late?
‘Thicker Than Water’ is a gripping thriller about family, belonging and revenge.

Having loved Rachel McLean's Division Bell political dystopia trilogy, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to take part in today's blog blitz for Thicker Than Water. Many thanks to the author and Rachel Gilby from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the book.

Rachel McLean certainly has the knack when it comes to writing only too believable dystopian thrillers; her Division Bell trilogy imagined a political landscape shaped by fear of terrorism and in Thicker Than Water she creates a near future in which cataclysmic flooding has irrevocably changed the country.
The book's brief introduction outlines the start of the flood but the majority of the novel is set six years after the event. Jess Dyer, her brother, Ben and his wife, Ruth fled from London and eventually found a place of refuge in a small community on the North Yorkshire coast. One of the many things I enjoyed about Thicker Than Water is that although there are occasional mentions of the immediate aftermath of the floods and the various struggles the characters went through before arriving in the village, the storyline is now mostly focused on what has become their new normality. Younger children can't remember a world with twenty-four-hour power, more toys than they have time to play with and food that isn't strictly rationed. The residents of the community have formed a council to handle all decision making and Jess has been newly elected its steward - bringing her into conflict with her brother who was the previous incumbent and who had hoped to extend his tenure beyond the usual two year period.
As much as Thicker Than Water is about change - the community are constantly aware that as refugees they are vulnerable to attack from disgruntled locals and can expect little support from a hostile police force - it's also about recognising that new circumstances don't negate what has happened in the past or mean that people forced to live side by side will be able to form a peaceful utopian society. The man who was a racist bully previously is still a racist bully, sibling guilt and anger doesn't just disappear and long-kept secrets from the past can still come to light.
Much of the tension in the book comes from Jess' fateful decision to rescue and give shelter to three men stranded out at sea. The resulting aftermath sees Ruth become a vital character in the novel as she learns not only what she is capable of but also uncovers the reason for one of the strangers to have such a deep desire to seek revenge. I loved how Thicker Than Water constantly reinforces the various ways in which women can be strong - from Ruth's resilience and resourcefulness, to Jess' courage in the face of dismissive doubts about her capabilities as steward, to the quieter shows  of strength from Dawn, who spends her days managing things to keep her husband calm, and her daughter, Sarah who has been brought up in her father's domineering shadow but is still able to find an inner fortitude that allows her to rely on her own instincts even under extreme duress.
The vivid sense of place means that I could easily picture this altered landscape of scattered communities existing among the floodplains and marshlands and the challenges of living with limited resources are perceptively depicted. After including the  Division Bell trilogy in my list of top reads for 2018, it gives me immense pleasure to be able to just as strongly recommend Thicker Than Water with its superb characterisation and intelligent, thought-provoking plot. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Sea of Lies soon and have signed up to the author's book club so that I can also read Underwater, the intriguing sounding prequel set of stories.

Thicker Than Water can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Look out for the other bloggers taking part in today's blog blitz by following Rachel McLean and Rachel's Random Resources on Twitter.

About the Author

My name's Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.
What does that mean?
In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.
Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?
My books aim to fill that gap.
If you'd like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at I'll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I'll let you know when my books are on offer.
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