A Study in Drowning

HarperTeen. Sept. 2023. 384p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063211506.
Gr 10 Up–A dark academia standalone for fans of Holly Black and Erin A. Craig. In her YA debut, Reid has created a world steeped in mythos with a timeless historical feel. Reluctant architecture student Effy Sayre would rather be in the literature college studying the late Emrys Myrddin, whose fairy tales have anchored her through dark times—especially the Angharad, about an evil Fairy King who marries a mortal. When Effy wins the contest Myrddin’s family holds to redesign his famed estate, she heads to the strange land that is the Bottom Hundred, and Myrddin’s even stranger estate. At the manor, Effy finds a crumbling legacy and Preston, a skeptical student of the literature college who doesn’t believe Myrddin wrote his most famous work. Even though Effy and Preston find themselves immediately at odds, Preston offers to put Effy’s name on his thesis if she helps his investigation. Soon the strange happenings of the house mean Effy can no longer convince herself the Fairy King isn’t real—and if Myrddin’s greatest villain is true, what else is hiding here? Reid’s evocative writing builds a gothic fairy tale on the bones of family history, casting an incisive look at grief, oppression, and consent through Effy, whose unreliable narration brings further tension to the story. The romance simmers slowly and is put in direct contrast to the other relationships. Main characters are white.
VERDICT Make space for this in your collection; Reid’s dark and lyrical writing will hold readers captive even after the story ends.

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