The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh


I’m continuing on my Man Booker Prize long-list journey and finished The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh last night. Not sure that timing was a wise decision on my part, as the ending left my mind reeling (and hello nightmares!)

This was a unique read for me – it is very literary and a bit abstract, but this works really well to support the bizarre narrative!

We follow three women living with their Mother on an island, and are told that any contact with men other than their father, King, is toxic and harmful to them. The women are compelled to undergo a number of treatments to help rid their body of toxins from their time in society prior to living on the island, including the title treatment which alleges to ‘cure’ women of the condition. It’s like a cult narrative, a dystopian/apocalyptic narrative and a commentary on gender violence without ever exclusively being any of these things!

The alternating perspectives worked incredibly well here, and the plot was cryptic and crazy enough to keep me furiously turning the pages, despite not always having a clear picture as to what was happening.

My only criticism of the novel is that even at the end, there was so much about the narrative that was left unanswered. I think a bit more detail would have gone a long way to closing out some questions the reader had (despite the flurry of plot-bombs that Mackintosh drops in the final part of this novel! 🤯). I think this could have been done while still leaving substantial intrigue and suspense for the reader to ponder.


This was a really readable literary fiction and I hope to see it make the Man Booker shortlist! 🤞🏻

Thanks to NetGalley and DoubleDay for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. And special shout out to Keriann from @womanvsbooks for chatting with me about this as I read it!

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