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The Drowning Girl

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,572 Ratings  ·  463 Reviews
India Morgan Phelps — Imp to her friends — is schizophrenic. Struggling with her perceptions of reality, Imp must uncover the truth about her encounters with creatures out of myth — or from something far, far stranger...
Paperback, 332 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by Roc (first published 2012)
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Cold Days by Jim ButcherKing of Thorns by Mark  LawrenceA Perfect Blood by Kim HarrisonFair Game by Patricia BriggsTricked by Kevin Hearne
Science Fiction & Fantasy Titles for 2012!
90th out of 650 books — 1,520 voters
The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. KiernanCarmilla by J. Sheridan Le FanuThe Red Tree by Caitlín R. KiernanSkull Full of Kisses by Michael  WestCarmilla - The Wolves of Styria by David Brian
Lesbian Horror
1st out of 18 books — 27 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 03, 2016 Brad rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, fantasy, mindfuq
This one is dark and haunting, half a tribute to falling into art so deeply that it makes love to you and murders you, and half a deep treatise on madness and skirting the far edges of normality, all while feeling very much in one's own skin.

Most of the fun is simply trying to figure out whether it's a ghost story, a Ghost Story, or the ghost of a story, disjointed and cast adrift in time and faulty memory.

It's quite the interesting maze. Parts of the later novel is dreamlike and calls on us to
Jack Tripper
The weird tale can be difficult to sustain through the course of an entire novel, which is why it's often most successful in short form. How does an author maintain that strangeness, that otherworldliness, throughout 200-300 pages? Well, Kiernan's figured it out, though I doubt anyone could ever copy her technique here without looking like a complete rip-off artist. She uses an entirely unreliable narrator, one who is schizophrenic and constantly lies, who's experiencing parallel timelines -- on ...more
Mar 13, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books, read-2012
5 Stars

Caitlin Kiernan is simply one of the best, the most original, and gifted writers in fiction today. She writes deep and dark horror stories and challenges you the reader as well as her many amazing protagonists to join her on a trip down the rabbit hole. Can you tell she is a real favorite of mine? I have read most of Kiernan’s work and have been taken in by her works, ever since I read The Red Tree, my first endeavor into the mysterious mind of Caitlin Kiernan.

In this book, The Drowning G
Printable Tire
Dec 04, 2013 Printable Tire rated it liked it
(I tried making this review friends-only but I guess there's not a way to do that. Strangers, please do not judge what a jerk I am. Goodreads friends, judge away but keep it to yourself.)

When I first saw Caitlin Kiernan, I thought she was obnoxious. It was my first time at the Readercom science fiction convention in Burlington, MA, and I had gone to a panel discussion called "Wet Dreams and Nightscapes" or something like that to hear Samuel Delany talk. Samuel Delany's a weirdo but he usually ha
Oct 07, 2014 Algernon rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014

There's always a siren, singing you to shipwreck. Some of us may be more susceptible than others are, but there's always a siren. It may be with us all our lives, or it may be many years or decades before we find it or it finds us. But when it does find us, if we're lucky we're Odysseus tied up to the ship's mast, hearing the song with perfect clarity, but ferried to safety by a crew whose ears have been plugged with beeswax. If we're not at all lucky, we're another sort of sailor stepping off
The Drowning Girl is a hypnotic, beautiful ghost story I’m going to write a ghost story now set in Providence, Rhode Island. In New England, in Lovecraft country. The narrator, India Morgan Phelps, Imp, is a young artist diagnosed with disorganized schizophrenia and who (in parenthesis) claims to be a distant relative to Lovecraft, but she doesn’t much care for his stories His prose is too florid and I find his stories silly , but he was right about that thing about man’s greatest and oldest ...more
11811 (Eleven)
Mar 27, 2013 11811 (Eleven) rated it it was ok
The quirkiness of this story grabbed my interest right from the start. About 20% into the book it started to get on my nerves. After about 50% or so, I started to hate it. There may be a bit of genius in here somewhere that I lack the intelligence or creativity to appreciate but in any case I was disappointed.

If this is worthy of any award this year, the Bram Stoker is the wrong venue. It has some dark elements but doesn't quite fit the horror genre.
Mar 02, 2013 Ryandake rated it really liked it
it's been a while since i've been this flummoxed by a book.

it's a ghost story, a mermaid story, a siren story, a wolf story, a crazy person story... all wrapped up in one. maybe that's why it's so hard to grasp--where it's not mythological, it's psychological, or maybe mythopoetic.

all of the above, i can handle. even in one book. it's a stretch, no doubt--this is not a fishhook book, where you get nabbed by the hook and pulled along. you have to do some serious swimming against the current here
Mar 17, 2013 Terence rated it liked it
Recommended to Terence by: Caitlin Kiernan fan
Shelves: horror-gothic
The Drowning Girl is a difficult book to characterize. Baldly, it’s the story of India Morgan Phelps (aka “Imp”), a highly functional schizophrenic whose life is turned upside down by the appearance of Eva Canning, who may or may not be a ghost, a werewolf, a mermaid or a stalker. If you don’t like unreliable narrators, ambiguous (and sometimes downright confusing) plots and – in the end – not really knowing “what happened,” then you will loathe this book. If you can wrap your mind around the id ...more
Bark's Book Nonsense
If you pick this up thinking it’s a charming fantasy or even a gothic horror novel you may be disappointed. Like Kiernan’s The Red Tree (which I loved), it has eerie leanings but at its core it’s more an intimate and unflinching look at a person’s struggle with insanity. It revisits several of the same themes but it takes them further and, as much as I tried and wanted to love this one just as much, in the end it just didn’t work for me.

Told in first person, India (Imp) is the unreliable narrato
Georgina Bruce
Apr 29, 2012 Georgina Bruce rated it it was ok
It seems harsh to give only 2 stars to a novel that is technically quite accomplished and which is not full of bad writing. But something about CRK's work just leaves me cold. It's a shame, because in theory, the subject matter of this book is right up my street - an unreliable narrator, ghost story, haunted painters, fairy stories, etc. But this didn't develop into... well, anything much.

The characters are unlikeable, pretentious and humourless. They are all so miserable you wonder how they ma
Mar 16, 2013 Tiffany rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
I'm not entirely sure what to say about this book. I appreciated it, but I didn't enjoy it. I fully expected to be blown away by this novel since it has so many of my favorite themes: mental illness, ghosts, and fairy tale creatures. However, while the prose was lovely and the book was well-written overall, I felt entirely detached and never engaged with the plot or the characters. In fact, Imp was really irritating to me and her deliberate unreliability as a narrator alienated me rather than in ...more
Randolph Carter
Jan 17, 2013 Randolph Carter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fiction
What if you were insane, but actually haunted by a real ghost? I'm not sure why nobody has ever really tried this before (Yellow Wallpaper doesn't count because it always calls the narrator's perceptions and mental stability into question).

Drenched in philosophy, history, psychology, science, and autobiography Kiernan uses her encyclopedic knowledge to weave a tale so dense it is sometimes difficulty to see where she is going but fascinating nevertheless. Imp seems to be the ultimate unreliable
All Things Urban Fantasy
Mar 05, 2012 All Things Urban Fantasy rated it it was amazing
By the purest definition of the rating, THE DROWNING GIRL is indisputably 5bats. A few chapters in, I was already reading passages aloud to friends. I already knew who would be receiving my own copy, budgeting for who I could send others. This had less to do with any enjoyment of the book than a sense of haunting that perfectly mirrors the main character’s own experiences. Does anyone else see what I see? Am I crazy, am I alone?

THE DROWNING GIRL introduces concepts and stories and images that a
Aug 08, 2013 Lee rated it liked it
Shelves: paranormal
Story: 3.5/5
1: Being Vague, rambling plot with no little believable storyline
5: Ripping yarn, clever, thought provoking

The drowning girl is like nothing I have ever read before. Written in a style that was very different to my usual choice of books. In a nutshell the story is about a young woman called Imp, who has some mental issues that seem to be genetic from her mothers side. There was a period of her life where things got kind of scary. To help with her rehabilitation she decides to write
Jul 16, 2015 Absinthe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
The only adequate words to describe this story have already been written by Caitlin R. Kiernan and they are known collectively as The Drowning Girl. I cannot be more sincere in saying that this book is a unique experience that haunts the reader who dares to open the cover. The fabric of reality is always warping and melting and molding into something else and its fascinating because ultimately it leaves the reader to decide for themselves what is and isn't real.
Sep 26, 2015 Bill rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of psycho-horror
Recommended to Bill by: Group read
I finished this last night. I did not really enjoy it, though I think it a well done novel and well-researched. I googled a lot of the names and such and surprised how much was real. I do like novels that cause me to do this.

I'd consider it a PsychoHorror as well as an exploration of schizophrenia with obsessive tendencies. From a medical point of view it is a good description of thought disorders, especially those with confused reality—psychosis. Perhaps the most telling part was when Imp went
Mar 24, 2013 Nikki rated it really liked it
The germ of this review comes from a discussion thread about it. I don't think I've borrowed anyone else's insights, but I'll freely confess I was confused for much of this book and therefore very probably suggestible. I just finished it -- I stayed away from the thread entirely until I got chance to read The Drowning Girl, because I knew from reading The Red Tree that I'd find it frustrating, but ultimately rewarding, to go it alone. I had wikipedia and google open, fact-checking the allusions ...more
Mariana Pereira
Pufff ainda estou a digerir muito bem o que li. Que história macabra, confusa (propositadamente), triste... nem sei mais que dizer. Adorei a escrita, se não fosse por isso, tinha dado 2 estrelas.
Feb 26, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Dec 06, 2014 Nihan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
Indiana Morgan Phelps, büyükannesi ve annesi gibi şizofrenik bir kadın. Büyükannesi akıl hastahanesinde, annesi de kendi evinde intihar ediyor. Kendi hikayesini - hikayelerini - yazmaya karar verdiğinde başına
gelen olay - olaylar - yüzünden kız arkadaşı Abalyn tarafından terk edilmiştir. Hem içerisinde bulunduğu yalnızlık hem de ruh sağlığı yazdıkça daha da kötüye gider. Öyle ki sonlara doğru artık okumak istemiyorum diye düşündüm ama elimden bırakamadım.

İndia'nın hikayesinin - hikayelerinin - b
Mar 02, 2016 Ctgt rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird
For me, this book was all about expectations.

About a year ago, I read and loved The Red Tree. Being a fan of weird fiction TRT was really in my wheelhouse. I added "Drowning Girl" to my tbr but as usual took quite awhile to actually read it. In the interim I started to notice many mixed reviews especially when compared to TRT. I try not to read too many specific reviews before I read a book hoping to go in with an open mind but in this case I think finding out that this book wasn't at all like T
Sofia Samatar
Aug 02, 2012 Sofia Samatar rated it it was amazing
This is a ghost story, and a mermaid story, and a werewolf story, and a schizophrenia story, and a love story. It's also a story about the power of art. The narrator, India Morgan Phelps, who goes by "Imp," is haunted by a strange woman (or possibly two women) named Eva Canning; she's also haunted by several works of art. She's haunted by a painting called The Drowning Girl, which shows a naked girl wading into the water, and by a painting called Fecunda ratis, which shows a crouching girl in re ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
Only 300+ pages, but the themes, image echoes, literary and metafictional references are too numerous to catalog. This is a writer's masterpiece for other writers and literature majors. I don't mean to scare or challenge you; be warned it's not a true genre or other entertainment category, but I'd call it as coming closest to a literary gothic. There are no 'dictionary' words or overly gruesome scenarios, but it does cover ghostly mysteries possibly manifesting because of past cult suicides.

Kate O'Hanlon
Mar 15, 2012 Kate O'Hanlon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt, horror
Kiernan's last novel The Red Tree impressed me mightily but ultimately did not win me over. I have been vindicated in my decision to give her another go. All the technical expertise, authenticity and stunning command over a deep and complex plot that was displayed in The Red Tree is out in force again but in The Drowning Girl Kiernan also brings something extra (a more likeable protagonist? a more compelling mythos? a more satisfying ending? all of this?) that made this novel one I could love as ...more
Sep 24, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
I'm still struggling with a review of this book. Imp is a fabulous, fascinating narrator. She explains in the opening chapter that she has schizophrenia. This makes the entire story suspect. What is truth? What is fact? Is it possible for something to be true without being factual? Two of Imp's own short stories become chapters of the book, but they are part of her own processing of reality. Her ghost story is peppered with references to paintings and painters and writers who may or may not exis ...more
Liviu Szoke
Nu știu sigur încă dacă este o capodoperă ce va dăinui peste ani sau doar o înșiruire de elucubrații și de fantezii ciudate și bolnave din partea unei schizofrenice obsedate de un tablou. Și de o femeie goală pe care o găsește noaptea pe marginea drumului și o duce la ea acasă, supărându-și iubita lesbiană.Cred că trebuie s-o las să se mai așeze un pic și să mă mai gândesc la ea. Oricum, demn de admirat efortul autoarei și stilul încărcat de-a scrie, obositor pe alocuri, dar doldora de referințe ...more
Dec 19, 2013 Gail rated it it was amazing
The fact that this all made sense to me, does that make me insane? I loved Imp. Such a beautiful character. Being inside her head was an amazing experience. Although the night I finished reading the book, I had nightmares, reliving monsters of my child hood. Was that related? Who knows.
Kendare Blake
Jun 13, 2012 Kendare Blake rated it it was amazing
Everything Kiernan touches turns to gold. THE DROWNING GIRL plunges the depths. Just read it. It's an experience.
Aug 30, 2015 Intery rated it it was amazing
Имам ревю в! Искам да благодаря на Академията...

В първите страници на The Drowning Girl главната героиня, Имп, те предупреждава да не вярваш на написаното от нея, тъй като е луда. Първоначално не обръщаш внимание на предупреждението, защото е трудно да вземеш насериозно кохерентна декларация за умопомрачение, но с напредването на сюжета постепенно осъзнаваш, че четеш едно от най-добрите изпълнения на тропа за ненадеждния разказвач.

Имп – за кратко от Индия Морган Фелпс (Phelps) –
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Mental Illness Ad...: New Schizophrenia book 1 18 Jun 06, 2014 08:42AM  
What do you think happened? 5 85 May 15, 2014 01:58PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: The Drowning Girl, by Caitlín R. Kiernan - Feb 2014 6 42 Feb 11, 2014 01:48AM  
Night of the Livi...: November 2013 Selection: The Drowning Girl 1 2 Jan 04, 2014 07:12AM  
  • Blood Oranges (Siobhan Quinn, #1)
  • Waking the Moon
  • Redwood and Wildfire
  • A Rope of Thorns (Hexslinger, #2)
  • The Kappa Child
  • Ancient, Ancient
  • Lifelode
  • Crandolin
  • Bottled Abyss
  • Nightwhere
  • Jagannath
  • Silently and Very Fast
  • The Bone Key: The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth
  • Lost Everything
  • Redemption in Indigo
  • The House of Discarded Dreams
  • Disturbed by Her Song
  • Fathom
Caitlín Rebekah Kiernan (born 26 May 1964) is the author of science fiction and dark fantasy works, including ten novels; many comic books; and more than two hundred published short stories, novellas, and vignettes. She is also the author of scientific papers in the field of paleontology.

(from Wikipedia)
More about Caitlín R. Kiernan...

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“Language is a poor enough means of communication as it is. So we should use all the words we have.” 1110 likes
“Ghosts are those memories that are too strong to be forgotten for good, echoing across the years and refusing to be obliterated by time.” 48 likes
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