I don't want to compare this book with Water for Elephants, I don't think that is fair to do...but...I didn't love this book and Water for Elephants is partly to blame because it was so fantastic.
Gruen tackles a historical time and fictitious creature in At the Water's Edge. I enjoyed the setting for the book, as many other reviewers have said, this would make a great movie. My problem is with the characters. It's not that Gruen is a bad writer, quite the opposite, but I didn't overly like any of them. I kept getting the Scottish girls confused, and didn't care for any of the men, save for maybe Hank at times. I realize that the reader is not supposed to like Elis, he's very similar to the husband in Water for Elephants, but I found his character flat for the villain part.
The book started off great. The best part of the book for me was the prologue and the New Year's Party.