The Water Cure by Sohpie Mackintosh
Published January 8th, 2019 by Doubleday
Genres Dystopian, Fiction
King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters, Grace, Lia, and Sky. 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, they retreat further inward until the day three strange men 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 the men?
If you follow my blog or social media, you will know that I love the dystopia genre. The Water Cure immediately caught my attention when I read the synopsis and saw that it was compared to The Virgin Suicides and The Handmaid’s Tale. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my all time favorite books so I was excited to start this one.
This story is told mostly from Lia’s perspective, but there are also chapters that are labeled with all three sister’s names; Lia, Grace and Sky and you can’t really tell who is speaking. Later in the book there are some chapters from Grace’s perspective as well. The first few chapters of this book were a bit slow and a bit confusing, as they don’t explain much about the outside world. The story then starts moving along at a faster pace and we get a lot of information about the current life of this family, as well as information about what is in the rest of the world. I will say though that we never do really get an explanation about the outside world and we never know the location where this book is taking place. The explanation about the rest of the world is basically that the world has become toxic, especially to women and men are all extremely dangerous.
The story follows the sisters through there daily lives and the wide variety of therapies and treatments that the girls receive regularly. Some of these were quite cruel and surprised me in their intensity. The way the book is written and the way the girls behave did indeed remind me of The Handmaid’s Tale. The comparison to The Handmaid’s Tale is also accurate with some things throughout the book. I initially gave this book 3 stars, bu after thinking about it more, I decided to change it to 4 stars. The book is very interesting and it will have readers trying to figure out what is going on the entire time. The way it is written from multiple perspectives is interesting, but I definitely enjoyed reading from Lia’s perspective most of the time. She is an interesting character and I found it quite fascinating to be in the mind of a character who grew up segregated from the rest of the world, basically in a cult like atmosphere.
The ending of the book surprised me, as did the events in the last few chapters. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how the book would end and although I figured a few things out, the author did a great job surprising me in the end. The whole book focuses on how men are evil, but in the end the women are pretty brainwashed. My only problem with this book is “hate all men because they are evil and band together with your sisters” mindset. I think some people will see this more as a feminist book and less of a dystopian. This was initially how I felt when I finished the book, which isn’t my thing at all. But once I thought about it more, even with the feminism views, it is really a great story. So I decided not to focus on that aspect and instead focused more on the story and the writing.
Overall, I thought this was a very interesting story and I really enjoyed the characters and the author’s writing. I look forward to reading more work from the author in the future.
Thank you to the publisher, Doubleday, for sending me an ARC of this book.