A Study in Drowning

Hardcover, 384 pages

English language

Published Sept. 19, 2023 by Del Rey.

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4 stars (4 reviews)

Effy has always believed in fairy tales. She's had no choice. Since childhood, she's been haunted by visions of the Fairy King. She's found solace only in the pages of Angharad - a beloved epic about a mortal girl who falls in love with the Fairy King, and then destroys him.

Effy's tattered copy is all that's keeping her afloat through her stifling first term at her prestigious architecture college. So when the late author's family announces a contest to design his house, Effy feels certain this is her destiny.

But Hiraeth Manor is an impossible task: a musty, decrepit estate on the brink of crumbling into a hungry sea. And when Effy arrives, she finds she isn't the only one who's made a temporary home there. Preston Héloury, a stodgy young literature scholar, is studying Myrddin's papers and is determined to prove her favourite author is a fraud.

As …

5 editions

My Heart. My Soul. :(

3 stars

TW: Mentions SA

This is the first book by Ava Reid that I've actually enjoyed. While some of what I didn't like from her other works (cough The Wolf and the Woodsman cough) were still present (mainly repetitive prose and weird similes, though after the 60% mark it mostly went away) I ended up really liking the final messaging of the book.

There are consistent metaphors focusing on water, most of which I found incredibly relatable when they referenced Effy's assault. (When they didn't, it felt annoying) Effy's rage paired with how she feels like she's 'drowning' during those periods, feeling like she'll see her assaulter just around the next corner, wow. Though the prose stayed simple for the most part, with patterns to the text in the beginning that were a little bit annoying, I still think the message of female empowerment and overcoming odds that feel …

Powerful, Affirming

5 stars

I think it’s best to go into this knowing as little as possible. Started a bit slow, but an after a couple of chapters the generic fantasy world building got out of the way and the characters came to the forefront and carried this so well. Then, to my surprise, the world felt more rich as the story progressed. I want to rave about everything I loved, but the less said the better.

An excellent mix of gothic and dark academia set in a world where the lines of reality are blurry, and the power of writing runs deep.

4 stars

I was going through a reading dry spell when I grudgingly forced myself to start reading this book. And then I finished the entire thing in a day. The book starts at a slow pace, but it gets its hooks into you early with an uneasy sense of uncertainty with the world. There's magic in the world. Or maybe there isn't. Strange things haunt Effy at night. Or maybe they don't? All we really know is that Effy feels unwelcome, and finds solace only in her worn copy of the novel Angharad. It's no wonder that she leaps at the chance to redesign the author's house, even if the invitation seems utterly suspect. And things get even more suspect when she arrives. The house is a character unto itself, a proper gothic crumbling mansion with locked rooms and nature creeping in and out of cracks in the ceiling. It's here …

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rated it

3 stars