Wretched Waterpark (Sinister Summer Series #1) by Kiersten White
Review,  Middle Grade,  Mystery

Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White – gothic middle grade mystery

Wretched Waterpark is fun, entertaining, and strange but interesting gothic middle grade mystery with amazing water park setting.

gothic middle grade mystery

Wretched Waterpark (Sinister Summer Series #1) by Kiersten White

Publication Date : June 7, 2022

Publisher : Delacorte Press

Read Date : December 15, 2022

Genre : Middle Grade, Mystery

Pages : 235

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Tea for this book :

Disclaimer – Many thanks to PRH International for eARC via NetGalley.
This post contains affiliate links.


From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes her middle grade series debut! Part Scooby Doo, part A Series of Unfortunate Events, and entirely genius! Meet the Sinister-Winterbottom twins, who solve mysteries at increasingly bizarre summer vacation destinations in the hopes of being reunited with their parents—or at the very least finally finding a good churro.

Twelve-year-old twins Theodora and Alexander and their older sister Wilhelmina Sinister-Winterbottom don’t know how they ended up with their Aunt Saffronia for an entire summer. She’s not exactly well equipped to handle children. The twins are determined to make it a good vacation, though, so when Aunt Saffronia suggests a waterpark, they hastily agree.

But Fathoms of Fun is not your typical waterpark. Instead of cabanas, guests rent mausoleums. The waterslides are gray tongues extending from horrible gargoyle faces. The few people they encounter are very, very odd. And the owner disappeared under bizarre circumstances, lost to the Cold, Unknowable Sea—the wave pool.

When Wil goes missing, rule following, cautious Alexander and competitive, brave Theo will have to work together to solve the mystery of Fathoms of Fun. But are they out of their depth?


Wretched Waterpark is an interesting middle-grade mystery with a gothic water park setting. It makes perfect first book in Sinister Summer Series by introducing the series, characters, and Sinister-Winterbottom family.

Three siblings- Theodora (Theo, 12 yr), Alexander (preferred to be called Alexender, wouldn’t answer any other nickname or short name, 12 yr), and Wilhemina (Wil, 16 yr)- are suddenly dropped at Sinister aunt (their mother’s sister), Saffronia for summer. They somehow cannot recall how they even reached at their aunt’s place and cannot get why they never heard of aunt Saffronia before who doesn’t have a clue of basic children’s needs. All their aunt know is kids have to complete the tasks that starts with their one week at Fathoms of Fun Waterpark which doesn’t look like a normal fun water park. It’s a gothic waterpark and everything about it is weird- there is almost no one in park, has worst food (nothing kid friendly) and there is talk of the co-manager of the park, Mr Widow, going missing, and Mrs Widow acts like she wants to close the park. But as one by one almost all staff stops appearing, Theo and Alexander decide to get to the bottom of the mystery of missing owner and staff. It is interesting to figure out why people are going missing and what’s Mrs. Widow’s sinister plan along with these fraternal twins.

I haven’t read the Unfortunate Events series but those who have read have mentioned this has a similar vibe. Writing is lucid and atmospheric with dry offbeat humor and quick banter. First half is all build-up and introduction. It takes time to get into the mystery but the characters make up for it.

I loved both Theo and Alexander. These fraternal twins couldn’t be more different. Theo loves being active. She finds it hard to deal with emotions so she channels those emotions into activity and she is energy powerhouse. She is blunt, practical, and brave and has a special love for churros. Alexander is liked by all adults and loves mystery and mythology. He is calm and cautious person and is very much particular about food safety. They both loved each other and always stayed together and supported each other even with their different nature and liking.

Wil is a typical teenager, always glued to her phone. I laughed when I read she named her phone Rodrigo. She is in charge of the twins but as she never looks up from her phone she is more in charge of credit card than the twins. But near the end, we see she actually loves the twins and also aware of things happening around her.

All other secondary characters are mysterious and interesting. Their descriptions are hilarious and it was amusing the way the twins nicknamed them. Edger is my most favorite. I loved him for helping kids and providing them with proper food and saving them more than once. I still can’t figure out Aunt Saffronia. She sounds more like a vampire but mystery about her and Children’s parents are remains to be solved in next books of the series.

Setting is the best part. I wish there was a map of the park. The description of the park is outstanding. There is huge tower with gargoyles and from gargoyles’ mouths tongues twist out into long slides and those slide are named – oblivion, abandoned hope, mortal coil, afterlife, and so on; cabana looks like a mausoleum; raft to use for slide looks like a coffin, and there is a library in the waterpark! It makes a perfect gothic setting and creates an amazing creepy atmosphere but not in a terrifying way.

Mystery is not that mind-blowing. As soon as Twins figure out a way to tower in the climax and release the person inside, things fall in place easily. The revelation of Mr Widow’s disappearance turned out way too simple but I still liked how the twins exposed evil Mrs Widow’s sinister plan. While all mystery of the waterpark is solved here some mysteries are remained to be revealed in the next books that I’m eagerly waiting to read now.

Why 4 stars-

This felt it slow for middle-grade genre and there are slight fillers or I think writing is like that as it feels like we are reading kid rambling so which means more words used for something we can say in lesser words (I hope that makes sense). Mystery isn’t that strong and like I said some revelations were just okay.

Overall, Wretched Waterpark is fun, entertaining, and strange but interesting middle-grade mystery with an amazing gothic water park setting.

I recommend this is you like,
Middle grade books
Unfortunate Events series vibe
Gothic water park setting
Dy offbeat humor
Easy mystery
Interesting characters
Slow to steady pace

Book Links

Goodreads | Amazon.in | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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