Book Review - The Water Cure


The Water Cure Sophie Mackintosh

This Review contains spoilers.

The Water Cure is centred around three sisters; Lia, Grace and Sky who live on an isolated island with their mother and father (referred to as ‘king’). They have been taught that the rest of the world is dangerous and toxic to women and they have to go through sadistic rituals designed to purify and strengthen them. These rituals are anything from drinking glass after glass of salt water until they vomit, burning, submerging their hands and feet in ice water, and drowning. Women used to come to the island in order to be purified, but they no longer do.

I will start off by saying that this book will not be for everyone. Sometimes the torture can be quite graphic and hard to read. However, if you can handle it, then I strongly, STRONGLY recommend that you read this book.

I really loved the premise of the book and was really excited to read it, but I have to admit that I wasn’t completely sold on it until I got through the first section, ‘Father’, of the book. But once I got to the ‘Men’ section, I couldn’t put it down. What I’m saying is that the first section is a bit slow and hard to get through, but this could’ve been because it took me a while to get used to the writing style.

The first section is told for a variety of different viewpoints. The first  viewpoint is, well, all of them (Grace, Lia, Sky). It is written in plurals which gives these chapters a really creepy vibe. Then there is the viewpoint of Grace, who directs her chapters as if she is talking to her supposedly dead father, and Lia – who’s viewpoint we see the most and talks in first person. Interestingly, Sky never gets her own chapters. I really loved the way that this book was written, it felt eerie, magical, and even though it was set in the future it had a real ‘old world’ feel about it.

This book has a real sense of “everything is not what it seems” running throughout the novel. Mackintosh does a great job of hinting that there is something else going on all throughout the novel without actually saying anything directly. Obviously, there is something not right going on – these girls are going through sadistic rituals for goodness sake! However, there was always doubt in the back of my mind regarding the truthfulness of Mother and King’s words. This is a cult. This is a cult. Was constantly repeating in my mind and you will have to read it in order to get your own insight an opinion.

I really took to the character of Lia more than any other of the sisters. Yes, we did hear from her the most but she felt the least brainwashed out of them all. Obviously, she wasn’t completely right in the head; no one would be considering what she has gone through. I felt really sorry for her. All she really wanted was to be loved in the way that she loves other people. As proved by some of the rituals, she would do absolutely anything for her sisters and you get the feeling that they wouldn’t do the same for them. She is very naïve, and very quickly falls for one of the men who takes a whole lot of advantage of her.

This book raises a lot of questions about humanity and who is actually the villain of the book. Is it King? Mother? The men? Or is it the sisters? In reality, it could be any one of them, depending on which perspective you choose to take. The sisters are very clearly victims, but they certainly aren’t innocent and that brought up a lot of inner conflict to me as the reader. But that was the beauty of this book. It makes you question everything.

Other reviews have described this book as “eerie, electric and beautiful.”, “creepy and delightful.”, and “powerfully unsettling, calmly disturbing.” This book is all of those things. I couldn’t think of more accurate words to describe this book. It is disturbing and dark and creepy but it is also beautiful delightful and poetic and is one that should definitely be added to your list.