THE WATER CURE

An evocative coming-of-age novel that captures the fear, rage, and yearning of three women growing up in a time of...

Three sisters, secreted away during a global crisis of male violence, learn to fight for their survival in this spare, dystopian debut.

Grace, Lia, and Sky follow the rituals enforced by their mother and their father, King, the only man they've ever known. The strange family lives in an isolated, crumbling mansion by the sea, where women arrive to receive the family's storied water cures and heal from violent pasts. They look like "they had been bled out, their skin limp. Eyes watering involuntarily, hair thinning," recalls Lia, and the sisters learn to fear a world that visits so much violence on its women. There are water cures for everything: to purify toxins from the outside world, illness, grief, too much feeling. The rituals themselves are often violent, requiring drowning or self-harm. When the novel opens, the sisters are mourning the death of King and the discovery of Grace's pregnancy, which disrupts their harmony and fractures their routines. To complicate matters, three men wash up on shore and beg for entry. Met with deep suspicion and relegated to the beach, the men become figures of both fascination and fear. Mackintosh alternates between the sisters' collective voices and the heartbreaking narratives of Grace and Lia. Despite being warned by her sisters and mother to stay away, Lia begins her first love affair with Llew, who is by turns charming, careless, and cruel. Grace gives birth to King's stillborn baby boy, an experience that isolates her from her younger sisters and her mother, who inexplicably disappears. While the narrative at times veers toward the pedantic, it's both shocking and refreshing to see the observations women make to one another—about the specific, learned cruelties and emotional violence of men—represented so plainly on the page. "It was no one big thing but many small things," one of the patients writes in the house Welcome Book. "Each one chipped away at me. By the end, I felt skinless." Ultimately, Grace, Lia, and Sky must make a choice: to trust the men or to save one another.

An evocative coming-of-age novel that captures the fear, rage, and yearning of three women growing up in a time of heightened violence.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54387-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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RED RISING

From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Set in the future and reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, this novel dramatizes a story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power.

In the beginning, Darrow, the narrator, works in the mines on Mars, a life of drudgery and subservience. He’s a member of the Reds, an “inferior” class, though he’s happily married to Eo, an incipient rebel who wants to overthrow the existing social order, especially the Golds, who treat the lower-ranking orders cruelly. When Eo leads him to a mildly rebellious act, she’s caught and executed, and Darrow decides to exact vengeance on the perpetrators of this outrage. He’s recruited by a rebel cell and “becomes” a Gold by having painful surgery—he has golden wings grafted on his back—and taking an exam to launch himself into the academy that educates the ruling elite. Although he successfully infiltrates the Golds, he finds the social order is a cruel and confusing mash-up of deception and intrigue. Eventually, he leads one of the “houses” in war games that are all too real and becomes a guerrilla warrior leading a ragtag band of rebelliously minded men and women. Although it takes a while, the reader eventually gets used to the specialized vocabulary of this world, where warriors shoot “pulseFists” and are protected by “recoilArmor.” As with many similar worlds, the warrior culture depicted here has a primitive, even classical, feel to it, especially since the warriors sport names such as Augustus, Cassius, Apollo and Mercury.

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53978-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

GOLDEN SON

From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 2

Comparisons to The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones series are inevitable, for this tale has elements of both—fantasy, the...

Brown presents the second installment of his epic science-fiction trilogy, and like the first (Red Rising, 2014), it’s chock-full of interpersonal tension, class conflict and violence.

The opening reintroduces us to Darrow au Andromedus, whose wife, Eo, was killed in the first volume. Also known as the Reaper, Darrow is a lancer in the House of Augustus and is still looking for revenge on the Golds, who are both in control and in the ascendant. The novel opens with a galactic war game, seemingly a simulation, but Darrow’s opponent, Karnus au Bellona, makes it very real when he rams Darrow’s ship and causes a large number of fatalities. In the main narrative thread, Darrow has infiltrated the Golds and continues to seek ways to subvert their oppressive and dominant culture. The world Brown creates here is both dense and densely populated, with a curious amalgam of the classical, the medieval and the futuristic. Characters with names like Cassius, Pliny, Theodora and Nero coexist—sometimes uneasily—with Daxo, Kavax and Sevro. And the characters inhabit a world with a vaguely medieval social hierarchy yet containing futuristic technology such as gravBoots. Amid the chronological murkiness, one thing is clear—Darrow is an assertive hero claiming as a birthright his obligation to fight against oppression: "For seven hundred years we have been enslaved….We have been kept in darkness. But there will come a day when we walk in the light." Stirring—and archetypal—stuff.  

Comparisons to The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones series are inevitable, for this tale has elements of both—fantasy, the future and quasi-historicism.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-345-53981-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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