Award-winning author, narrator, and screenwriter Neil Gaiman personally selected this book, and, using the tools of the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), cast the narrator and produced this work for his audiobook label, Neil Gaiman Presents.
A few words from Neil on The Drowning Girl: "As with all "Neil Gaiman Presents" titles, it's very important to me to find the voice that comes closest to the voice in the author's head; for Caitlin, for this book, that was Suzy Jackson. It was not until the second round of auditions that we found someone who sounded young but not naïve, someone who could catalogue the sharp detail of Imp's carefully observed daily life but also convey the blurred edges of her reality. Caitlin and Suzy kept in touch during the recording, and the result is a reading that is precise but not "stagey", a literary but accessible reading of the novel."
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....
Winner of the 2013 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel.
To hear more from Neil Gaiman on The Drowning Girl, click here, or listen to the introduction at the beginning of the book itself.
©2012 Caitlin R. Kiernan (P)2012 Caitlin R Kiernan
What does it really mean to be haunted? Where is the boundary between the experience of a ghost and the more prosaic experience of being haunted by the memory of a person, a book, a story, a painting or a piece of music? How do our minds interpret a haunting and how does it affect our lives? If a haunting can trouble a sane mind, how much more might it disturb an already troubled mind?
If it seems that I've begun this review with too many questions, I suppose it is because I believe this book is best understood as reflecting those questions. It is written from the viewpoint of India/Imp, who is a schizophrenic from a family of mentally disturbed women. It is in the form of a memoir in which she is attempting to reconcile, understand, and simply remember a sequence of experiences revolving around a woman (ghost?) named Eva Canning. Woven into the story are Imp's reactions to pieces of art, music, literature, religion, mythology and popular culture, all of which become part of her haunting. The story is enhanced by a pair of “stories within a story,” one of which, “The Mermaid of the Concrete Ocean”, I especially found both compelling and disturbing.
All of this is to explore the premise that hauntings are what the protagonist describes as "particularly pernicious thought contagions." The book has its challenges, especially when Imp drifts into psychotic episodes. The narrative is often non-linear as it reflects Imps's attempt to piece her experiences together into a coherent story and thus can be difficult to follow at times. But really, isn't this how all our minds work to a certain extent? We have a collection of memories we hold within our minds and those memories shape who we are and how we behave. We construct our own stories around those memories to make sense of them. Some of these stories may reflect reality more than others but they are all equally "real" to us.
If you are interested in a more straight-forward ghost story with a clear-cut resolution, you will probably be frustrated with this book. But if you can appreciate a well-written story exploring the vagaries of the human mind and which leaves as many questions unanswered as answered, you will find this a fascinating and thought-provoking book.
In a heartbeat! It's not every day you can find a book about two artists, three paintings, four deaths, one murder, a cult and a big black eye with a bag of frozen peas on it and have it all fit together.Oh, and there's a really, really, really sweet love story in this. I'm such a sucker for those kind of things (total girl). It's a *different* kind of love to be sure, but it's filled with just as many feels. In fact, if I had to list one complaint it would be that I wanted more everyday stuff between Imp and Abalyn and I didn't get it.
1. The Little Mermaid.2. Little Red Riding Hood. 3. The Black Dahlia. But these are just superficial resemblances really. It's so hard to talk about this book in comparison with any other piece because it is just so. damn. unique.I once wrote something about another work by this author that I think is still relevant to her work today :"Caitlin R Keirnan writes the way most people experience dreams. Similarly it it impossible to talk about her books in the same way it is impossible to talk of dreams and have the subject retain it's integrity without reducing it to either inanity or a series or random disconnected images. Reading The Drowning Girl is an exercise in wakeful dreaming."I stand by this statement.
Suzy Jackson is a very talented narrator and I would be willing to listen to other books by her. I'm just not sold on her being the right voice for this book. I don't think she has the right grip on what Kiernan is trying to do in her story - I mean this is one of the greater attempts at reinventing the novel this side of the year 2000 and Suzy's voice just sounds too ... oh, I don't know, young-ish? But everyone else here seems to love her for this story, so obviously I'm talking crazy and shouldn't be listened to.
Yes I think this was one of the most remarkable books I have ever read.
This is an honest book and one about profound vulnerability. It is beautifully written.
This is not a book for folks who lack compassion or are bigots when it comes to the mentally ill or lesbians. For anyone else, it is not a trivial book and stylistically it will not be everyone's cup of tea but it is one of the most remarkable books I have ever read.
I don't know how to review this book. My best advice if you are curious is to listen to the sample clip. If it grabs you, you'll like the book. If not, find something else.
I think I'm going to have to read all of Neil Gaiman Presents books because this was a revelation both in the writing itself and the quality of the narration. I don't remember being this affected by a book, at least not in a long while. I can't exactly say I liked it but I loved it so much (if that makes any sense.) That means, probably, that it's art. Highly recommended as long as you aren't just looking for an easy, entertaining story. Amazing and deep sometimes
This novel is nearly great. With a couple of exceptions, the writing throughout the book is superb. One of these exceptions involves an extended mad scene which went on to the point where I was on the verge of pushing the fast forward button. The other is an annoying and overlong example of siren's songs. The protagonist is crazily compelling and sympathetic. The plot is occasionally a trifle convoluted, but keeps you engaged. Unfortunately, the ending is weak and somewhat unsatisfying. Suzy Jackson's performance of the story is terrific. I will keep an eye out for other books which she narrates.
This is the best audiobook and best adaptation of a book for audio that I have ever listened to. Suzy Jackson's narration turns this wonderful novel into breathtaking dramatic performance.
There are too many to count, and I don't want to spoil any of them.
It must be Imp, of course. But Suzy Jackson was fantastic in making each character speak in their own individual voice. If I didn't know otherwise I would have assumed that there were a cast of narrators.
There were many things about this book that initially appealed to me. But the narrative - told from the viewpoint of a woman who doubts her sanity, as we do - was so loose that the plot threads just got lost. It takes a brilliant writer to hold one's attention while the characters ramble, and while this author's style, knowledge of various subjects and vivid sex scenes may have enough appeal to overcome this for some readers, it left me waiting for the end.
A troubled narrator makes some things inherently difficult, but I didn't think that she ever found her voice. The obsessions, water and animal imagery, gender issues, etc., were heavy handed and obscured the relationships that could have been a major strength of the book. In the end, I never really cared about any of the characters enough to want to untangle the story.
I felt that the author got to caught up in showing off her knowledge.
Packing for mars
The narrator was phenomenal- all characters were great
I understand the style and what the author wanted to achieve, but she just took too long to tell a story, as I said there were Points where it wasn't about the story, but about the author saying look how superior I am over you.
This is a literary book, it is slow - as most literary books are. She does a gOod job within the style; but needs to be careful that her pretentiousness doesn't show through. If you like literary go for it. If you are a psychiatrist or psych nurse - you will find more honesty in the E.R.
Love the book as a window. Shocked by the number of definitions for the word "turn". Widowed and sad, but thankful. Trying hard to be useful. Have 28 years as a step-father to a fantastic grand-daughter and a not so fantastic drug addicted, step-daughter. Oddly focused on the fun of preparing to die well, and help those left behind, while eating, hot springing, and reading for pleasure.
The book is too long and over clarifies its point, which is some kind of denial of necessary meaning. I would also try to build in some suspense. I was never held by the story. I love the reader and for that reason alone stayed with the book. I am glad I finished it, because the end held a key line mentioning laying one story over another and benefiting from doing so. Whether the point is worth the trouble of finishing this book is doubtful.
I was amazed by the quotes, references, and asides in the book. The writing itself is stylistically advanced, not genius, but way up on the talent charts. Almost any part of the book would be a great study of syntax. It even uses foreign language and completely made-up words to get its point across and add texture. The narrator handles the unexpected transitions from English to something else and back brilliantly!
Any attempted follow up to this work should be more explicit and more focused. Meaning does not vanish just because one tries to be specific about it.
This is the second book I have listened to by this narrator, and I will be looking for a third. On that basis I recommend this book.
"Real or not?"
Imp is schizophrenic, it runs in the family, and has caused her mum and gran to commit suicide. When Imp starts obsessing over a painting of a drowning girl, and its relevance to the original telling of the fairytale Red Riding Hood; the listener is left to decipher what is real and what is mentally evoked imaginings.
I found this quite distressing, as Imp was in so much turmoil, and having a knowledge of OCD, those sections were painful to listen to as the author had obviously really done her homework.
"Drowning in repetition"
Firstly I'll hold my hand up and say that I did not listen to this book all the way through. And that, unfortunately, is the point. I got bored listening to the same thing over and over again, the seemingly endless circles that the protagonist moves in. I appreciate that it reflects the mental health issues that this character experiences but it left me screaming "Just get on with it." It felt like a visit to an elderly relative in the throes of dementia; the same questions being asked over and over, the same conversation being had every time. It had me pleading for something to happen...until I finally gave up. Which is a shame as it is well written and performed beautifully. However, it just not did work for me.
"An excellent insight into the schizophrenic mind."
I enjoyed this. Neil Gaiman was dead right, in his introduction, when he spoke of how suitable the narrator was. She made the story come to life. As for the story itself it is a fascinating (and, I have been told) extremely accurate look into the mind of a schizophrenic. I feel this detracted from the story ever so slightly, leaving this reader a little unfulfilled at the conclusion. However, this should not be seen as a massive criticism as I really did enjoy the book as a whole. I felt for the characters and the situation was brought to live in a vivid and engaging fashion. I will be seeking out further work by the author.
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