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  • Published: 31 May 2018
  • ISBN: 9780241983027
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

The Water Cure


Dreamlike and compulsive, a blazing literary debut about love, violence and survival at any cost

Once upon a time, damaged women came here to be cured. We took them in, fed them glasses of our clean, good water, let them scream at the waves till their lips split like ripe fruit. Now no one is left but my sisters and me. King died a year ago, quite suddenly. Mother has vanished, no one knows where. And the safe compound they built around us, far away from the toxic world, has finally been breached.

Three men arrived last week, washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent. We remember now what our father taught us. 'If the men come to you, show yourself some mercy. Don't stick around and wait for them to put you out of your misery.'

  • Published: 31 May 2018
  • ISBN: 9780241983027
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

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Praise for The Water Cure

Eerie, electric, beautiful. It rushes you through to the end on a tide of tension and closely held panic. I loved this book

Daisy Johnson, author of 'Fen'

Creepy and delightful, a portrayal of post-apocalyptic puberty, intermingling desire and despair. It has a pinch of Shirley Jackson, a dash of chlorine, and an essence all of its own

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of 'Harmless Like You'

Powerfully unsettling, immensely assured, calmly devastating. It conjures a world both alien and familiar, exploring the physical and psychological cruelties enacted on women, by men, in the name of their protection, and the noble and ignoble uses to which anger can be put in a perverse world. This is a gem of a novel, and I was bowled over by it

Katherine Angel, author of 'Unmastered'

A work of cool, claustrophobic beauty. Sophie Mackintosh writes devastatingly well about the complexities that women face in loving men, and in loving each other

Eli Goldstone, author of 'Strange Heart Beating'

Stunning... A haunting story of abuse, death, and desire... Chilling and topical, a breathtaking debut


[A] wildly confident debut... Take the strange social ceremonies of The Lobster and the pheromone-rich claustrophobia of The Beguiled and you come close to the world Sophie Mackintosh conjures

AnOther Magazine

Bold, inventive, haunting... With shades of Margaret Atwood and Eimear McBride, you'll be bowled over by it

Stylist (61 Books to Read This Spring)

[A] lyrical debut, original and very atmospheric

Good Housekeeping

A hypnotic read... This extraordinary debut is a feminist, quasi-dystopian read - great for fans of Hot Milk, The Girls and The Vegetarian


Bewitching... [An] ambiguous utopia


Eerily beautiful, this strange, unsettling novel creeps up and grabs hold of you

Paula Hawkins, author of 'The Girl on the Train'

Otherworldly, brutal and poetic: a feminist fable set by the sea, a utopia gone awry, a female Lord of the Flies. It transported me, savaged me, filled me with hope and fear. It felt like a book I'd been waiting to read for a long time

Emma Jane Unsworth, author of 'Animals'

Powerful, mythic, seductively sinister... Her alternative world is as carefully imagined as one of Margaret Atwood's... [Sophie Mackintosh] is a writer to be reckoned with

Book Oxygen

Eerie and unsettling, the novel exerts a hypnotic grip as the tension builds

Daily Mail

An extraordinary debut... Otherworldly, luminous, precise


In raw, visceral prose, Mackintosh probes at ideas of the threat of male violence, the ways women are told to protect ourselves, love and sisterhood and survival. A hypnotic, stormy book, with one of my favourite endings I've read in a long while

The Pool

Searing, richly drawn, eerily compelling... As foreboding in what it holds back as in what it reveals


Uneasy, mythic, lawless... The atmospheric landscapes cloak trauma and violence in wisps of uncertainty, where bad feelings coalesce as both presciently felt and strangely unknowable


Compulsive, eerily gorgeous, [it] will have you gripped until the end... A film adaptation feels inevitable... As far as debuts go, this is superb

Irish News

[An] eerie, uncanny literary debut... Beautifully written, pared down and hypnotic

Sunday Times Culture

A superb debut


Electric [and] beautifully strange... Her novel is an exercise in minimalism

Times Literary Supplement

Elemental... [A] utopia portrayed in spectral, organic prose... Mackintosh is a wonderful stylist; the full scope of her imagination, as well as the cohesion of her vision, is evident on every page... A seriously impressive feat

Irish Times

The Water Cure is eerily still and pure - with saline bite... Mackintosh asks if it is the traumas of our pasts that ultimately pose the greatest threat to our futures

New Statesman

The Water Cure deserves a Sofia Coppola-style big-screen treatment, although its cultish overtones and sinister denouement are as reminiscent of The Wicker Man as The Virgin Suicides

The Literary Review

Darkly gratifying, dreamy, primal, and arresting [as] a fairy tale... The overgrown grounds, with their perimeter of rusty barbed wire and shark-infested waters, resemble Sleeping Beauty's castle

New Yorker

A feminist dystopian fairy tale, a sexual coming-of-age story and a survival-of-the-fittest tale. Evocative, suspenseful and bleak - in short, everything this age seems to be demanding


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