Title: Water Shall Refuse Them
Author: Lucy McKnight Hardy
Pages: 256 Pages
Publisher: Dead Ink
The heatwave of 1976. Following the accidental drowning of her sister, sixteen-year-old Nif and her family move to a small village on the Welsh borders to escape their grief. But rural seclusion doesnt bring any relief. As her family unravels, Nif begins to put together her own form of witchcraft collecting talismans from the sun-starved land. That is, until she meets Mally, a teen boy who takes a keen interest in her, and has his own secret rites to divulge. Reminiscent of the suspense of Shirley Jackson and soaked in the folkhorror of English heritage, Water Shall Refuse Them is an atmospheric coming-of-age novel and a thrilling debut.
Water Shall Refuse Them by Lucy McKnight Hardy is a creepy an unsettling story of a bereaved family who go on a trip to try and find some equilibrium after the loss of a young member of the family. The story focuses on Nif, the eldest child in her family and how she has had to grow up a lot quicker than is normal. She is looking after her younger brother, becoming a mum to him as her mum is still dealing with the bereavement and dealing with her dad who is struggling too.
The trip is supposed to bring the family back together but will it succeed?
The story is good although often times I felt like the very languid writing style didn’t help build up any drama or tension. It felt like the first 220 pages was very slow and then everything sped to the finish line within the last thirty pages.
I think I understand why McKnight Hardy chose this style as it reflected the oppressive weather of 1976 in which the story is set but the tempo of the story didn’t work for me.
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