Dead Water, by C.A. Fletcher

The Book

Dead Water
Pages: 512
Age Group: Adult
Published on 7/19/2022
Publisher: Orbit Books
Available on:


In a chilling blend of folk horror and twisting suspense, this modern masterpiece depicts isolation and dread within a small island community.

There's something in the water...

On the edge of the Northern Atlantic lies a remote island. The islanders are an outwardly harmonious community—but all have their own secrets, some much darker than others. And when a strange disorder begins to infect them all, those secrets come to light.

Ferry service fails and contact with the mainland is lost. Rumors begin to swirl as a temporary inconvenience grows into nightmarish ordeal. The fabric of the once tight-knit island is unnervingly torn apart—and whatever the cause, the question soon stops being how or why it happened, but who, if anyone, will survive.  

My Review (4 out of 5 )

Dead Water is a folkloric horror novel, written by C.A. Fletcher, and published by Orbit Books. A slow-burn story, which takes its time to build complex characters to later introduce the horror elements, making a great combination for those that loved horror in the style of Stephen King.

On a remote Scottish island, which is only accessible by ferry, we are introduced to a large cast of characters, each one with some secrets and flaws. Fletcher takes its time to introduce us to them, letting us observe how their lives were before a curse is unburied from the sea.
The island becomes aisled from the rest of the world, as a big storm hits and the communications are interrupted.

In this situation, the population starts to dwindle, getting attracted to the water and becoming Drowneds. The few survivors are having to deal with this situation without being aware of what is happening, thinking it's mostly a collective hysteria.

The aspect that worked better in this novel is how detailed and complex the characters become, something that later is used to generate a huge pay-off once the situation goes out of control; most of them are hugely flawed, and those flaws tend to act against them during the novel (we can think of Sigi as an example, who almost dies during to her diving activities).
Said that, this way of building characters affects heavily pacing, as approximately 50% of this novel is used for this aspect; but the payoff works well enough to don't think much about it.

Fletcher decides to go for the folkloric horror way, introducing elements related to the water and Norse mythology; those elements mixed with the aisled nature of the island are more than enough to create a really tense situation, diving into some of my favourite horror subgenres, the one that plays with human psychology.

If you like slow-burn horror, novels that have deeply developed characters, Dead Water is certainly a book you should read. A recommended novel for fans of Stephen King.

The Author/s

C.A. Fletcher

C.A. Fletcher

Charlie’s a screenwriter, at least two novelists (he also writes as C.A.Fletcher) and lives on the edge of Edinburgh. He’s been lots of other things too – temperamentally unsuitable bar staff (grumpy, not talkative), temporary laundry manager in a big London hotel, detail-shop car-wash jockey in Reno, Nevada, despatch runner for a film company in Soho,  food critic (not a very good one, basically never met a meal he didn’t like. Or at least eat too much of), national newspaper columnist (Scotland’s a nation, right?) and a film editor at the BBC. He studied Literature at St Andrews University, and later took a grad degree in Screenwriting at USC.

He swims a lot, keeps thinking of taking up cycling, likes forgotten books, summers on the Outer Hebrides, terriers, his wife and his children - not necessarily in that order.