Book Review: Deep Water by Emma Bamford

Slow-burning suspense, and a cautionary tale of trouble in paradise.

Emma Bamford is an author and journalist who has worked for The Independent, the Daily Express, the Daily MirrorSailing Today, and Boat International. She spent several years sailing among some of the world’s most beautiful islands and wrote two travel memoirs about her experiences, Casting Off and Untie the Lines. A graduate of the University of East Anglia’s Prose Fiction MA, she lives in the United Kingdom. Deep Water is her first novel.

When I started reading Deep Water earlier this year I had not long returned from my first sailing experience, so I was excited to dive into a thriller set in such a remote, tropical location. Having said that, you don’t have to have spent time on a boat in order to follow along and enjoy Bamford’s novel. I found the cast of characters unique, and their descriptions realistic. She did an amazing job getting into the mind of the protagonist, and I felt myself getting pulled into the dynamics of the central relationship between Virginie and Jake-which was quickly put to the test. I’ve always been curious about the types of people who quit their jobs and leave everything behind to set off on an adventure in the wild. The setting projected its own sense of isolation and inherent danger, which I loved, especially in one particular scene where Virginie stumbles across the ruins of a settlement set on shore Amarante. The pace of the novel is definitely on the slower side, not for readers who seek pulse-pounding action, or edge-of-your-seat suspense.

The scene I keep going back to is the opening which reveals Jake, Virginie’s boyfriend, unconscious from a head trauma, while Virginie is too shocked to explain what happened. That initial incident kept me turning the pages, curious to find out what happened and why. When it was finally revealed, the change in POV made an interesting twist. Overall this was a successful debut and I’m excited to see what she publishes next.

3/5 ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy a slow-burn, tropical setting and have an interest in sailing/boat life. It’s the perfect beach read!

Published May 31st, 2022


When a Navy vessel comes across a yacht in distress in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean, Captain Danial Tengku orders his ship to rush to its aid. On board the yacht is a British couple: a horribly injured man, Jake, and his traumatized wife, Virginie, who breathlessly confesses, “It’s all my fault. I killed them.”

Trembling with fear, she reveals their shocking story to Danial. Months earlier, the couple had spent all their savings on a yacht, full of excitement for exploring the high seas and exotic lands together. They start at the busy harbors of Malaysia and, through word of mouth, Jake and Virginie learn about a tiny, isolated island full of unspoiled beaches. When they arrive, they discover they are not the only visitors and quickly become entangled with a motley crew of expat sailors. Soon, Jake and Virginie’s adventurous dream turns into a terrifying nightmare.

Now, it’s up to Danial to determine just how much truth there is in Virginie’s alarming tale. But when his crew makes a shocking discovery, he realizes that if he doesn’t act soon, they could all fall under the dark spell of the island.

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