Emma and Adam Goodhew are doctors at the top of their fields and so when they are offered the chance to take their three children to Africa for a year for a research placement, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. It's going to be an experience they'll never forget.
But for all the wrong reasons.
When Emma arrives home one night to the sickening sight of an empty cot, their family's dream turns into their worst nightmare.
Thousands of miles from home and from anyone who can help, they must discover the truth. Is this a random abduction, a tragic accident or something far more sinister?
Emma and Adam take their three young children all the way to Botswana so that Adam can take up a research opportunity. Emma was reluctant to go but came round to the idea that it would be good for their whole family to experience together. Her idyllic world is shattered though when she returns home to find that Sam, her youngest has been taken from his cot. They are in a different country with different rules and procedures so they feel utterly terrified and completely useless. They know that they are going to have to do some of the detective work themselves but are they already too late?
My favourite part of this book was the African setting. Shemilt's descriptions were so vivid and I could easily imagine the Goodhew's surroundings. I really loved the witchcraft and ritual element to this book too and I thought it was dealt with very well.
I felt that Shemilt used Emma and Adam to really explore the family dynamic and the way the balance of power can shift between a couple, especially when children are involved. I can't say that I particularly liked Emma or Adam; I thought that they were both extremely selfish in their own ways. You don't need to like them in order to empathise with them when their son is taken. The author captured the terror, bewilderment and frustration of the situation plus the huge feelings of loss, grief and guilt.
The Drowning Lesson Lesson is an excellent read and Jane Shemilt clearly a talented storyteller.
Many thanks to Penguin for allowing me to review this book via NetGalley.