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The Drowning Girl | [Caitlin R. Kiernan]

The Drowning Girl

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....
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Publisher's Summary

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.

Learn more about Neil Gaiman Presents and Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX).

©2012 Caitlin R. Kiernan (P)2012 Caitlin R Kiernan

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.3 (235 )
5 star
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3.2 (212 )
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4.0 (213 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Diane Louisville, KY, United States 07-16-12
    Diane Louisville, KY, United States 07-16-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "A Modern Haunting"

    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.

    28 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl United States 10-02-12
    Daryl United States 10-02-12 Member Since 2011

    echostecho

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    "Went on a weird trip. Liked where I went."
    Would you listen to The Drowning Girl again? Why?

    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.


    What other book might you compare The Drowning Girl to and why?

    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.


    What three words best describe Suzy Jackson’s voice?

    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.


    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate Dedham, MA, United States 09-16-12
    Kate Dedham, MA, United States 09-16-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Brilliant, complex and not for the simple-minded"
    Would you listen to The Drowning Girl again? Why?

    Yes I think this was one of the most remarkable books I have ever read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is an honest book and one about profound vulnerability. It is beautifully written.


    Which character – as performed by Suzy Jackson – was your favorite?

    Imp


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    S
    E
    V
    E
    N


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Urbana, IL, United States 09-25-13
    Mike Urbana, IL, United States 09-25-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Almost great"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Valerian MADISON, WI, United States 09-15-13
    Valerian MADISON, WI, United States 09-15-13 Member Since 2011
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    "very odd and engrossing"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J Smithers, BC, Canada 01-08-13
    J Smithers, BC, Canada 01-08-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Holy freaking cats this is amazing."
    Where does The Drowning Girl rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Drowning Girl?

    There are too many to count, and I don't want to spoil any of them.


    Which character – as performed by Suzy Jackson – was your favorite?

    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.


    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James CRESCENT CITY, CALIFORNIA, United States 07-28-12
    James CRESCENT CITY, CALIFORNIA, United States 07-28-12 Member Since 2006

    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.

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    "Worth The Read But Not Until The End"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    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.


    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 07-15-12
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 07-15-12 Member Since 2006
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    "A mazing story"
    What did you like best about The Drowning Girl? What did you like least?

    A really good author has written a very confusing story.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Pleased.


    Which character – as performed by Suzy Jackson – was your favorite?

    IMP was well written and her girlfriend was genuine but again, the story was so convoluted that I found it hard to follow most of the time.


    Could you see The Drowning Girl being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No, it would have to be changed beyond the meaning of the story so that the average person could follow.


    Any additional comments?

    Ms. Kierman is brilliant and the book is well written but her story flummoxed me. I listened to the end because of the purchase. Cannot recommend.

    10 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marianne Washington D.C. 08-06-12
    Marianne Washington D.C. 08-06-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Tried too hard."
    What disappointed you about The Drowning Girl?

    I felt that the author got to caught up in showing off her knowledge.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Packing for mars


    Which character – as performed by Suzy Jackson – was your favorite?

    The narrator was phenomenal- all characters were great


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Drowning Girl?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    6 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly SPRINGFIELD, TENNESSEE, United States 11-23-14
    Kelly SPRINGFIELD, TENNESSEE, United States 11-23-14 Member Since 2014

    Kelly, Aussie living in Nashville, Employment Specialist, Writer & so on

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    "Intriguing, mysterious, multi layered hauntings"
    What made the experience of listening to The Drowning Girl the most enjoyable?

    The wealth of knowledge that Caitlin injected into the story - especially re: mythology, psychology and history.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The idea of being haunted by things other than ghosts - e.g. ideas, people, works of art, memories etc. Also, how all the little hauntings tied into the main haunting.


    What about Suzy Jackson’s performance did you like?

    I was intrigued with how she could change her voice to sound like someone else, and wondered if there were other narrators (and wished that there were - or at least, that she used the deeper voice used for Imp's girlfriend - as I found her teenage sounding voice grating.) All in all, she did a great job with such a complex story.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No crying, laughed a little, but mostly intrigued, with "a-ha" moments here and there. Learned quite a lot - so the experience was doubled for me: a novel and a textbook! (I always fancied myself as a mythology/psychology/history/art buff - but was pleasantly surprised to be afforded the opportunity to learn more!)


    Any additional comments?

    The only criticism I could possibly have with this novel would be that it needed more editing - re: tightening the story. It does tend to meander a bit - but on the other hand, that is in keeping with Imp's erratic frame of mind. I became annoyed with the "Imp typed" interruptions.

    However, it is one of the few stories I have read in my life that has "haunted" me - so, well played, Caitlin! No matter what, it was very much worth the meager credit and I would've been happy to pay more for the experience of having my psyche infiltrated by such interesting characters and experiences.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Sarah
    GLASGOW, United Kingdom
    10/18/12
    Overall
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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