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Still Waters Paperback – December 20, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (December 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442421142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442421141
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,313,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Emma Carlson Berne lives in Cincinnati with her husband and son. She is currently at work on her next YA thriller.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Hannah Taylor leaned her finger on the doorbell of Colin’s house, listening to the silvery chimes echo inside the sprawling Victorian. The July sun was setting behind her, firing the sky orange and lending a soft pink glow to the stone and clapboard house.

No answer. Her boyfriend’s shiny Ford pickup was parked in the driveway, so he had to be home. Colin had even told her to stop by after dinner. Hannah rang again and tried the door. Locked. She pressed her face against the side window, but all she could see was the darkened foyer. Finally she tipped up a flowerpot of pansies at the corner of the porch. There was a key taped to the bottom. She unlocked the door and stepped into the Oriental-carpeted foyer. Over her head, a vaulted ceiling soared to the second story. The downstairs lights were off, and the purple twilight shadows filtered through the windows.

Hannah set the spare key down on the antique farmhouse table cluttered with piles of mail. “Hello?” she called into the quiet. There was a rustle and a thump from the back of the house. Hannah’s heart gave a little skip. “Colin?” she called again. She padded into the darkened dining room.

Suddenly the foyer blazed into light. Hannah squeezed her eyes shut against the glare. When she opened them, Colin Byrd was standing in the doorway, his hand on the light switch. His hair was rumpled and a book dangled from his hand. “Oh, hi. I fell asleep.”

Hannah exhaled and went over to embrace him. “It’s so dark in here.” She followed him back into the den, where the deep suede couch still held the imprint of his body. She flopped down on the couch, leaning her head against the back. Colin put his book on the coffee table and stretched out on the floor, interlocking his fingers behind his head.

“My mom and dad went to some cocktail thing. How was dinner with the fam?” he asked. He started doing sit-ups.

Hannah blew out her lips. “Fine. The usual. Just me and David.”

“Did you cook?”

She nodded. “Tuna casserole this time. I should teach David how to make it. Ten is old enough to cook, right?” She rocked her head back and forth, feeling the kinks in her neck. “My mom had to stay late. Cleaning up the stockroom.” Her mother’s new job at a big chain bookstore had great benefits, but it also meant that she worked about fifty hours a week and was rarely home before nine.

“Nineteen, twenty,” Colin counted. “What’s David doing?” He switched to crunches.

Hannah leaned forward and grabbed the book Colin had set down. It was a big volume of black-and-white photos. “I told him he could watch a movie after his homework was done.” She paged through some shots of factories from the 1940s. “Where’d you get this?”

Colin looked over from his prone position on the carpet. “Oh, it’s great. I checked it out from the library. Look at this one.” He sat down next to her on the sofa. Hannah felt her pulse increase at the warmth of his body next to hers. Even after a whole year of being together.

Hannah thought of the very first day she saw Colin, at the beginning of her junior year, alone in the art room at school, holding a strip of negatives up to the light. She’d stood across the room, forgetting the ink drawing she was supposed to be putting on Mr. Walter’s desk. Instead her eyes were riveted to the play of the muscles in his broad shoulders, and the span of his big-knuckled hands holding the film. Then a group of obnoxious guys had passed by the hall, the big, bluff types who seemed to take up all the air in the hallways when they swaggered by on the way to classes.

“Colin!” a big blond guy in a Yankees cap had called in. “Get your ass out here!”

Hannah’s heart sank. He was one of them.

Colin wheeled around, and his face was momentarily angry. Then, as Hannah watched, he laid the negatives down with a resigned sigh and headed toward the door. Hannah wasn’t surprised he hadn’t noticed her on the other side of the room. She’d perfected being invisible since freshman year. But just before he left the room, he turned around and met her eyes squarely.

Her breath caught. And then he’d been gone.

Now, Hannah smiled at the memory and gazed at her boyfriend’s bright blond head, which was bent over the book as he flipped through the pages.

She examined the picture he pointed out. “Cool lines in this one.” But Colin didn’t answer, and she looked up. He was watching her and his earnest expression made her stomach clench in anticipation. He was going to say it again.

“Hannah, I love you.” His voice held just the slightest pleading note.

Hannah’s fingers tightened on the book spread across her lap. She gazed down at it. “I know,” she mumbled. A panoramic shot of Detroit stared up at her.

A little silence stretched between them. She heard him swallow. “You still can’t say it? I thought, maybe you’d had time to think it over by now.”

Hannah rose to her feet abruptly, and the book slid splayed onto the carpet. She crossed the room to the upright piano and tapped out “This Old Man.” She focused on her fingers pressing each shiny key so she wouldn’t have to look at Colin’s wide, hurt eyes.

“I still need some time,” she mumbled to the piano. “The moment has to be just right, okay? Maybe if we could be alone.”

“I’m leaving for Pratt orientation in a week.” The frustration in his voice was palpable. “Anyway, we’re alone right now.”

Hannah turned around. “No, I mean like really alone. Not here at your parents’ house. Not in your car. I feel like every time we turn around, someone’s”—a car door slammed outside—“interrupting,” she finished.

Hannah saw Colin’s jaw clench. “Damn it. I thought they’d be home later.” They heard the front door open.

“It was a stupid thing to say, Carl.” Colin’s mother’s voice cut into the quiet like a rasp.

“Don’t talk to me like that, Brenda.” His father’s words were slightly slurred. There was a clank and then a muffled exclamation. “Who put that chair there?”

“That chair has always been there, Carl.” Hannah heard the creak of the coat closet door. “Honestly, I was embarrassed—”

“Excuse me!” Colin’s dad roared thickly. “I don’t need you to play cop with me.”

Colin stood up and grabbed Hannah’s hand. “The fun never ends.” He didn’t look at her. “Come on, let’s go out.”

They stood up, but two forms suddenly blocked the light in the doorway. Hannah’s heart sank, and she felt Colin stiffen beside her. Not fast enough this time.

“Oh, Colin.” His mother’s refined voice was higher than usual, as if she’d been tilted off balance. She gave a little laugh and smoothed her blond bob. “I didn’t realize you were here. Hello, Hannah.” Colin’s silver-haired father stood beside her, swaying slightly on his feet, breathing alcohol fumes into the room.

“We were just leaving,” Colin said roughly.

“Oh, Colin, we saw Mary Turner tonight,” his mother called to their backs as they headed up the stairs. “She was asking about your photos and—”

Colin tugged Hannah down the hallway. He opened the door to the attic and closed it with a bang, cutting off his mother’s plaintive strains from the floor below.

Hannah faced her boyfriend. He stood with his eyes closed and his fingertips pressed to his temples, as if to erase the scene from his brain. Hannah leaned against the wall and folded her arms. It was always best not to talk to him right away after an encounter with his parents.

Finally he lowered his hands and opened his eyes. They watched each other for a second, and then Hannah started.

“I don’t know why you’re so mean to them.” She kept her voice neutral. “They don’t seem that bad—”

“That bad!” Colin almost exploded. “The drinking, they’re out all the time, and then when they do come home, it’s ‘Oh, Colin, how was your day? How are you? Let’s talk,’ like they have any idea what’s going on in my life at all. But I can tell all they want to do is get away from me. They can’t stand to be in the same room with me.” He sank down slowly on the attic steps and leaned his head against the faded wallpaper. A pattern of green lattices hung in strips, revealing a blue and white striped paper beneath.

Hannah sat on the step beside Colin and took his hands. She peered into his face insistently until he met her gaze. “You know this is really strange, what you’re saying, right? Parents don’t just hate their own kids for no reason. And it’s not like you’re a bad person. You’re so good and sweet.”

Colin stared at their joined hands. His face was a mask of sadness, but the lines of anger had softened. “You don’t understand. It’s been like this forever—well, ever since Jack died.”

Hannah bit her lip. He hardly ever mentioned his brother.

Colin rose abruptly and turned around. “Whatever. I don’t want to talk about my parents anymore. Come on. I was going to show you this tomorrow, but it’ll be even better at night. Do you have your camera?”

Hannah nodded and patted her big bag. “Yeah. It&...

More About the Author

Emma Carlson Berne is the author of the YA thrillers NEVER LET YOU GO (Simon & Schuster, 2012) and STILL WATERS (Simon & Schuster, 2011),as well as HARD TO GET, a YA romantic comedy. She lives in Cincinnati. You can visit Emma's web site at, follow her on Twitter @emmacberne, or visit Emma Carlson Berne Books on Facebook.

Customer Reviews

This book had a very good pace to it and the imagery was top notch.
Amanda Welling
Plot-holes: There were some small little plot-holes at the end that just made it seem like they got kind of lazy at the end of the book.
Jasmine Baggenstos
Everyone is comparing this book to The Shining, but since I've never watched or read The Shining, I don't see that.
Tabitha @ Bows & Bullets Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Welling on December 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
First Impressions: When I first read the book synopsis, it sort of reminded me of Stephen King's, The Shining. I knew that I would have to get my hands on this book and see if it were any good. I also loved the cover art, which reminded me of Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey. This book sounded like a good scary read for a rainy day!

First 50 Pages: I think I hit the nail on the head when I said that Still Waters is very much like The Shining. As I dug deeper into the story, I found some uncanny similarities. In other words, the plot was kind of predictable. I knew for the most part how the story was going to play out once I hit about halfway through the book.

Characters & Plot: Not to say that it wasn't good, because it was. I loved Emma's detailed descriptions of Pine House, the creepy abandoned vacation home of Colin's family. This book had a very good pace to it and the imagery was top notch. Everything is explained in painstaking detail that makes the words really come to life. The author has a talent for making the reader sit on the edge of their seat to find out what will happen, even despite the book's predictability.

I'm not sure how I feel about Hannah. There were moments that I really liked her and then there were moments where she really frustrated the heck out of me. Hannah was a bit of a goodie-two-shoes. We learn that Hannah never does anything wrong. She doesn't lie, she doesn't steal, and she basically is the mom in her household and does everything she can to take care of her little brother and help to support her family. With the impending departure of her boyfriend, Colin, she decided to break all of her rules, just once. So, she lies, she steals, and she leaves her home for a romantic weekend in the middle of nowhere with Colin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Emily on March 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book was dull. The author spent entirely too much time building to what was going on instead of actually having anything happen. I get that she was trying to build suspense, but it really didn't work. It might have if this had been a screenplay or an actual movie, but, in book form, it failed. She did, however, develop her characters enough that they felt real.
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By Alyssa Greatbanks on February 18, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book was very...creepy. The slow decent into something very very wrong was chilling, and the terror that Hannah felt really get to you. Not only those, but when you find out why all this has been happening it is completely heartbreaking.

Great book. I believe it is sold under "Teen" books, I probably wouldn't read it too young, 17+ if anything. A very emotionally draining book, but a good book nonetheless. It has a slow start, but it picks up about half way through when everything starts going crazy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
STILL WATERS kept me on edge from the start. As a reformed rule-follower, I could identify with the teenage Hannah. I liked her emerging spunkiness, and I think most young women would understand her internal conflicts, at least a bit. Colin gave me the creeps from the beginning. Emma Carlson Berne did a nice job of foreshadowing as well as keeping the reader guessing about Colin and his true nature.

A few details in the story seemed a bit unrealistic to an adult reader. But since many teenagers have never planned a trip (packing, food, etc.), they were feasible. The author painted a clear picture of the old house and its surroundings. Her descriptive technique added much to the uneasiness felt by the reader.

Emma did a great job of drawing the reader in, creating a fast-paced read, and crafting some action scenes that left this reader more than jumpy. A hair-raising, quick read, STILL WATERS is a great way to spend a rainy day.
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By Tina B. on October 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Hannah and Colin, our in-love teens, are just on the cusp of adulthood, heading off for college in the fall and dealing with the inevitable separation that is to come. Hannah being worried about the long distance relationship thing, wants their last weekend together to be bliss. She wants to say the big I love you and perhaps succumb to the mattress dance. And with all those big decisions, Hannah is feeling a bit overwhelmed and very nervous....she wants to do something special for Colin, but has no idea how to show him she loves him without actually saying it.

When opportunity presents itself, Hannah jumps at the chance to plan a secret getaway weekend.....{and here would be the first of Hannah's warning signs: probably best if you stay away from a creepy lake house when you find its picture and property info on newspaper clippings in your boyfriends attic} but what does Hannah do, she lies to her mom, gets her bff to cover for her and takes off with an unsuspecting Colin. Half way there, when Colin discovers where they are going, a dark cloud descends on him, making the trip weird, awkward and creepy. Hannah is a little freaked out (warning sign number two: always listen to your gut fear...if sunshine boyfriend suddenly looks like the devil, you may want to open the car door and hit the pavement) by Colin's behavior, but like a dandelion in the wind, she blows Colin's behavior off as college stress.

When they finally get to the lake, things are bad right from the start. No electricity, no other houses for miles around and miles of woods surrounding them screaming creepy murder scenes.....(warning sign number three: when your in an unfamiliar place surrounded by trees and an old creepy house with scary looking boyfriend...
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