Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement.

a study in drowningIt’s hard not to believe in fairytales when you’ve been haunted by visions of one all your life. Effy has sought solace in her copy of Angharad, an epic classic beloved by her country. Alas, women aren’t allowed to study literature, and she must make do with a place at the prestigious architecture college. She suffers the indignity that comes with being the only female student on the course, until she spots a contest to design a house for the estate of the author whose work she loves so much.


The only enemy is the sea.

Myrddin’s manor is located in the Bottom Hundred, a part of the land that is on the edge of falling into the sea. Some of it already has. When Effy arrives she finds a decrepit estate and an impossible task to restore Hiraeth Manor. She also finds another student, a literature scholar. One intent on uncovering secrets of the late, great Myrddin.

The atmosphere oozes off every damp, drippy page of A Study in Drowning. I loved this tale of unearthing the truth behind a beloved book, forever unsure whether the magic is real or not.

Effy could no longer see him as the enigmatic man in his author photo. She could only picture him now as a crab in its slippery tide pool, oblivious to being drenched over and over again by the water.

In the land of Llyr, great authors are revered. The Sleeper Museum houses the Storytellers in glass coffins, where some believe they guard the country against harm and outside forces. Of course, the scholars of the literature school don’t believe any of that superstitious nonsense, but they pour over the texts nonetheless.

Effy knows Angharad off by heart, the story made her feel less alone when she saw visions of the Fairy King. Throughout the story, it keeps you guessing whether magic is real or not. Perhaps Ianto is just mad and the sea has eroded the land he lives on. Effy starts to doubt even her own memories.

The other student immediately rubs Effy the wrong way, not only is he allowed to study the one thing she loves most in the world, he’s a foreigner, an Argantian. In her opinion he should not be able to sully Llyrian literature with his theories, picking through the belongings of a dead man for juicy scandals.

Miserably, and against her will, Effy realized that she was in a Romance after all. Pedestrian as it might be.

I loved that this society had the deference for literature, that its existence made them what they were and authors were held up as saints. However that is against a backdrop of sexism that is explored as Effy learns the true story of Angharad. Great dark academia vibes, despite most the academia being done on location, this is one of my favourite books of the year!

A Study in Drowning is published by Del Rey and will be available in hardback, ebook and audiobook editions from 19th September 2023. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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