Everyone is born into their own unique circumstances. Good. Bad. Indifferent. From infancy we are completely dependent on our caretakers. We learn their cues, their language, their ideologies. What is there to argue when this is the only way of life you know.
Grace, Lia, and Sky. Three sisters raised in their secluded home by Mother and King. Purposefully segregated away from the toxic world. While growing up they were subjected to rigorous therapies to keep their bodies in tip top shape to fight off any wayward toxin.
King has taken every precaution he can think of to keep the world away from his property and family. Barbed wire lines the forest, along with hidden traps. He’s a man that takes care of his family. Creating new therapies as the girls grow. King makes trip to the mainland to restock on provisions, using a boat and the sea channel at the port just below the property.
This port is what used to bring women to the house. Battered and bruised, reeking with toxin from the world and carrying distrust toward any man. Mother would apply the therapies and King would be a presence in the corner of the room, while the girls spied on progress from the top of the stairs. Always present, never involved.
For the unsuspecting, this life is perfectly normal. What happens when there is a bump in the road? How do you deal with a feeling you have been forced to push away before your first steps? What happens when the last thing to come to the shore is a threat no one could have prepared for?
Note: While I may not look upon some of the things I say as a spoiler, others might. It is never my intention to spoil a book for anyone. Please proceed at your own risk. Also note, this book contains quite a few triggers.
Let’s break this whole book down, shall we?
The Cover: The cover is what drew me to read this book (I have the one on the left). I thought it was intriguing, very eye-catching. I actually did not notice the Margaret Atwood quote until I was roughly 50% of the way through the book (OOPS!). That old quote “never judge a book by its cover” just doesn’t bode well with me. I have and continue to choose some books solely on their covers.
The characters: This is rather hard to talk about without immediately giving some things away. Remember, this is all my opinion, and this is how I perceived the book. We have three main characters; Grace, Lia, and Sky. Three sisters brought up under our supporting characters; Mother and King. Not much is known about King up front, other than he has died (relax, it’s not a spoiler, it’s essentially spelled out for you as soon as you start the book). I feel that from start to finish we slowly build up each character’s distinct personality. Like coaxing a kitten out from hiding. When first starting this book it is slightly odd the reactions to King’s death. Mainly, Mother doesn’t know how to deal with grief.
Love isn’t brought up regularly. In fact, after King passes away Mother leaves “No more love” notes all around the house. From birth, Mother and King would subject the girls to therapies to ward off toxins of the dying world. In the early years women from … let’s just call it beyond … would come to the house wanting therapies to get over the horror in the world. The women would rarely stay more than a month, and their stay always ended with “The Water Cure” (yes, it’s one of those books where the title of the book actually makes sense).
The therapies- Here’s where we get into some triggers. There are several different therapies mentioned (I’m sure there were more not mentioned). We have:
- The drowning game
- Fainting sack therapy
- Scream therapy
- Love therapy
- water cure
I’m not going to go into detail what they’re about- it’s not always an easy read with these- I’ll let the reader get into these on their own. The fact that these girls were brought up with an ever-changing list of therapies to encompass growing up bothered me. It made for an interesting story though.
The underlying tone- I’ve read a few interesting points made by others. One is this book is a feminist book. I don’t really take that point of view. Why? Sure, it’s about the girls, but I truly believe they are acting only on what they’ve been taught. If they had been raised in the “real world” with real ideals (and common sense) half the stuff in this book would not have happened. I’ve also seen this as a #metoo movement piece. Again, I don’t really see this as a movement. Once again, my opinions, I could be DEAD wrong, but neither of those really hit me in the feels that they had a connection to this book.
So what is the tone of the book? I took this as a 100% dystopian. In fact, I really do not see it that far from the truth. I am sure, somewhere out there, right now, are people raising their kids away from the “real world” with their own ideologies, no common sense, no tact for conversing “normally”. As I said in my introduction, how we are raised from the beginning forms an integral part of what is “us” and how we react to the world.
The end-Well obviously I’m not going to tell you the ending. I will tell you that there were a few surprises. Some info I had called from the beginning, but it was nice to get an explanation at the end. I can’t say that I was surprised by the ending, but it also wasn’t what I expected.
The Good: For Sophie Mackintosh’s debut novel, she definitely gave me a lot to think about. I enjoyed the cover, the short chapters, the easy-to-read story.
The Bad: If you’re looking for a lot of explanations, you’re not going to get them. Any explanation given is fragmented, and the story jumps a lot. In some places I thought adequate information was given, in other places I wish I knew more about a backstory, or about surroundings.
The Ugly: Unfortunately for some people, this will be a trigger book. There’s really no way around it. At times it was hard for me to read, I did set the book down every now and then. However, explanations and descriptions are over very quickly, with minimal reminiscing in other scenes.
“The Water Cure“ by Sophie Mackintosh is available now! I was chosen by Netgalley to receive a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Given that fact, it has not altered my opinion on the book at all.