Rating: 4 / 5
Sophie Mackintosh’s The Water Cure is the thought-provoking story of three sisters’ survival in a world where men are physically toxic to women.
Sisters Grace, Lia, and Sky live on an isolated island with their mother and father, King. King brought his family to the island to keep them from exposure to male toxicity, which is physically making women sick. The family partake in various peculiar therapies to maintain their physical and mental health, steeling their emotions and expelling toxins in order to stay alive in this dystopian future.
The sisters are completely isolated from the rest of the world and from all men but King, so when King dies and three men wash ashore, they are shocked and frightened for their health. Will these men prove themselves to be as toxic as the chaotic and frightening tales of the mainland make them out to be, or will they turn out to be benign?
Through the story of The Water Cure, Mackintosh is able to discuss several intriguing themes, such as the bonds and obligations of sisterhood and family and toxic masculinity and misogyny. It is a commentary on the ways of our world and an intriguing story whose plot twists you won’t see coming.
Please take caution while reading The Water Cure if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Assault / violence
- Death / dying
The Water Cure is the most unique novel I’ve ever read. The ways in which Mackintosh weaves social commentary into the story are fantastic and very sneaky. The story itself has a tempo unlike any other, as well. It’s slow-moving, but constantly provides bits of information that don’t fully answer the many questions you’re bound to have, leaving you always wanting more and propelling the story forward.
A major part of the narrative, and my personal favorite aspect, is the complicated relationship between the sisters. Grace and Lia, who swap narration responsibilities throughout the novel, used to be very close, but now have a strained relationship due to some of the familial rules and therapies that have taken place over the years. The gradual understanding and evolution of their relationship is a shining light in this novel, and the theme of sisterhood becomes a main driver of the story line.
I love Mackintosh’s cadence of providing integral information. Each family secret or detail of the society that is provided enriches the story more and more. The discomfort that comes with not understanding the world and the family’s traditions makes the eventual realization that much better.
Overall, The Water Cure is a wonderfully bizarre and unique novel. The character development and continual small glimpses into the family’s cult-like world are exceptionally interesting and well-written. I highly recommend this novel to lovers of literary fiction, psychological thrillers, and stories of dystopian societies.
Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts on The Water Cure. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!