Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, this chilling debut will get in your head and stay there. Cut off from society, three sisters live alone on an island with their father because he wants to protect them from the men on the mainland. Barbed wire protects the island. The sisters perform unsettling rituals under the watchful eye of their father. Then Dad goes missing. Then three strange men show up on the island. Then things get very, very intense.
January 2019 Indie Next List
“Here’s what they know: men hurt women, even if they don’t mean to. And the island is the only safe place in a world that has been completely corrupted by pollution — at least that’s what they’ve been told. So sisters Grace, Lia, and Sky occupy themselves with the painful rituals their parents have devised, exercises that will make them stronger and immune to love’s sickness. Every day is the same until their father disappears and three strange men appear in his place. Violence is inevitable, but who will be the perpetrator? Gorgeously, perfectly written, The Water Cure luxuriates in an atmosphere of haunting, Atwoodian strangeness.”
— Lauren Peugh, Powell's Books, Portland, OR
The Handmaid's Tale meets The Virgin Suicides in this dystopic feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters on an isolated island, raised to fear men
King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters. He has lain the barbed wire; he has anchored the buoys in the water; he has marked out a clear message: Do not enter. Or viewed from another angle: Not safe to leave. Here women are protected from the chaos and violence of men on the mainland. The cult-like rituals and therapies they endure fortify them from the spreading toxicity of a degrading world.
But when their father, the only man they've ever seen, disappears, the sisters retreat further inward until the day two men and a boy wash ashore. Over the span of one blistering hot week, a psychological cat-and-mouse game plays out. Sexual tensions and sibling rivalries flare as the sisters confront the amorphous threat the strangers represent. Can they survive this invasion? And will the male intruders?
A haunting, riveting debut about the capacity for violence and the potency of female desire, The Water Cure both devastates and astonishes as it reflects our own world back at us.
About the Author
SOPHIE MACKINTOSH won the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize and the 2016 Virago/Stylist Short Story competition, and has been published in Granta magazine and Tank magazine, among others. The Water Cure is her first novel.
A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2019 BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, VOGUE, WASHINGTON POST, HUFFINGTON POST, VULTURE, LITHUB, REFINERY29 and more
"Ingenious and incendiary" —THE NEW YORKER
“Sensational…Mackintosh’s taut novel turns a keen, unsparing eye on violence, patriarchy, and desire.” —ESQUIRE (25 Most Anticipated Books of 2019)
“Eerily beautiful, this strange, unsettling novel creeps up and grabs hold of you.” —PAULA HAWKINS, New York Times bestselling author of GIRL ON THE TRAIN
“An extraordinary otherworldly debut… [Mackintosh] is writing the way that Sofia Coppola would shoot the end of the world: Everything is luminous.” —THE GUARDIAN
“[A] chilling, beautifully written novel…the tautness and tension of the writing are staggering.” —Judges Panel Citation, the MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2018
“Mackintosh’s novel follows in the footsteps of The Handmaid’s Tale…but this debut has its own alluring style, which has prompted comparisons to The Virgin Suicides for its gauzy, heady sexuality; lacy, precise prose; and the luminous sisters at its core.” —VOGUE “Mackintosh’s entry [into feminist dystopian fiction] is among the best, not least because it gets to the root of the genre by dissecting a warped utopia…Three men arrive on the island, and twists ensue — not cheap pyrotechnics but reversals of moral structure, revelations that demonstrate why the subtlest fiction is often the most powerful.” —VULTURE
"Sophie Mackintosh casts an exquisite, irresistible spell in her thrilling debut. Ablaze with beauty, desire, and dread, The Water Cure is a shattering look at patriarchal control and how far three sisters will go to free themselves from it". —LENI ZUMAS, author of RED CLOCKS
“At once dreamy and disturbing, The Water Cure is a gripping work, a dizzying labyrinth of conflicting realities.” —HELEN PHILIPS, author of THE BEAUTIFUL BUREAUCRAT
"Creepy and sexy in equal measure, The Water Cure is a hypnotic portrait of three young women waking up to the world, desire, and the power of their bodies." —THE INDEPENDENT