Bodies of Water is an exercise in quiet, slow-building horror. It moves confidently between two eras in the life of Wakewater House, from the Victorian world of hydrotherapy and female ‘hysteria’ to modern London, where its protagonist, Kirsten, walks, lonely and wakeful in her converted apartment. As the novel moves inexorably forward, and we discover more about the history of Wakewater House and its inhabitants, the ‘real’ world of the twenty-first century seems to dissolve in a nightmarish swoon of shadowy women mingling with the river, and the omnipresent, slow invasion of water into the building, insidious drop by insidious drop.
Reminiscent of the richly textured world of an A.S. Byatt novel, Bodies of Water presents us with a fascinating morass of feminist principles, folk tales and the female domain of water. Effortlessly written, and marvellously nuanced, this is a stunning debut novel by V.H. Leslie.