The Waiting Sands - Susan Howatch

This has some mild spoilers, so read at your peril. I doubt that many people will end up reading this book, though, so I figured why not?

 

I had a unique perspective on this book - it was a book that made an indelible impression on me when I was around 12 years old. I had found it on my mom's bookshelves, she was a fan of these old-fashioned gothic romances, or maybe at the used book store, and I remember staying up late one night and reading it. The climactic scene on the Cluny Sands etched itself on my memory quite deeply.

 

I didn't remember the name of the book, or the author, or even a single character name (how could I forget Decima or Rohan?), but I remembered the sense of brooding suspense and the horror of being trapped in quicksand. I actually looked for this book for several years before stumbling on The Waiting Sands in one of my random searches. I initially thought that it was probably The Shivering Sands, but reading it ruled it out for me. If I had reviewed this when I was 12, I would've given it a breathless, terrified five stars.

 

But, as the expression goes, you can't read the same book twice. I'm not 12 anymore, drawn to unhealthy, and emotionally abusive, relationships. Things that I skipped right over when I was a girl were unable to ignore as a woman. I'm still giving it three stars, mostly for nostalgia's sake and because the writing was quite good and that climactic scene in the quicksand was still pretty intense.

 

The romance, though, was just a total no go for me. I was astonished when I read Rachel's self-confession of undying love for Daniel after knowing him for all of perhaps 36 hours, both because she barely knew him and because he'd been a monumental asswagon to her. And then her decision to, in essence, pledge herself to eternal celibacy because some guy that she thought was hot for about two days, who was all mixed up in a murder and whom she actually believed WAS the MURDERER, was no longer available to her made me snort aloud. 

 

I've known a fair few murderers, guys. None of them are worth three minutes of celibacy, much less a lifetimes worth.

 

All of the characters were basically vile. Howatch tries to redeem Daniel, and at least partially succeeds, but it's a bit too little too late for my taste. Rachel is a wet mop.

 

This is a test: You find yourself on the edge of quicksand with someone you believe to a be a murderer. You are in a completely isolated spot and there is no one else for miles. He has fallen asleep and you are able to grab the gun. Do you:

 

a. Scamper away and dump the bullets into the quick sand and then pretend you were asleep, too or

b. Hold the motherfucker at gunpoint until you can get back to the boat and escape

 

If your answer is a, you might be the heroine of a gothic romance. Because heaven forfend that you might try to save your ownself.

 

It was fun to reconnect with that moronic tween who used to think that guys like Daniel were romantic. I'm really glad I grew the hell up before I picked a spouse.