Walsh, a pastor turned full-time writer, surprises with a swashbuckling tale of a sunken pre–Civil War era steamship and its cargo of gold—and a newlywed couple who must make a harrowing decision. When a steamship heads directly into a hurricane on the Atlantic coast, John and Laura Foster must choose to stay together or be separated when women and children are evacuated to another ship.
What makes the story more than romantic fluff is its basis in a true event, the sinking of the SS Central America and its payload of gold, and a dramatic subplot of Micah, a slave who longs to be free along with his family. Some flashbacks that provide backstory are awkwardly obvious, and characters seem to be more obsessed with sunsets than one might expect desperate survivors to be, but the story has penetrating moments.
With this novel Walsh establishes himself as a Christian historical fiction writer who crafts credible character-driven stories.
The Deepest Waters was a powerful, poignant story of two people—newlyweds on their honeymoon—who experience a life and death situation. Their ship is sinking. How awful is that to experience mere days after you have just been married? Be prepared for an interesting adventure with these two wonderful characters. Dan doesn’t ease us into the story—he dumps us into the scene shortly after Laura and all the women on the ship have been rescued by another ship passing by. As Laura morns the separation, the tension builds as we switch to the husband, John, who is with the other men trying to last on the ship till the last second. How awful it must be to know that the ship is about to sink and you are many, many miles away from shore.
John and Laura were both strong characters that really made the story. Laura’s actions on the ship and John’s bravery while floating in the middle of the ocean were commendable. What a valiant hero John was! He completely grabbed my attention as he, time and again, helped someone else before himself. The friendship between Laura and Micah was special and I enjoyed watching them connect on the Cutlass.
The small miracles that happened along the way proved God’s providence was with them the whole time. Since the book began in the middle of a storm right after John and Laura have been separated, they weren’t every together and I thought it would be hard to learn about the two of them together this way. But Dan weaves in several scenes of flashbacks, taking either John or Laura back to when they were courting in San Francisco. I enjoyed these scenes and really got to connect with the characters.
The writing was really engaging. Different than what I usually enjoy, I still was pulled into the story and was curious and anxious to see how it ended. Dan seemed to lean towards short chapters and frequently changing scenes, which I really liked. Since it was easy to find a stopping point, I found myself picking up the book more frequently and reading longer, as it was so easy to say “Just one more scene!”
Dan has crafted together a very powerful read that will draw the reader into the story easily. This is the first book I have read by Dan, but I will be sure to look for his name in the future. The Deepest Waters isn’t a thick book, and with the short chapters and scenes, it’s a very easy read.