The Shifting Pools by Zoe Duncan

Review published on July 27, 2017.

I found this book to be a seriously stunning debut that took me as a reader on a haunting and spiritual journey, following the story of Eve as she faces her nightmares.

It is beautifully written and cleverly split into sections as we see her now in London coming to terms with her past as those nightmares are now consuming her daytime. We get to look back at what she faced as a child and how that severely impacted her and explains why she feels so lost and alone now. And it also introduces a fantasy world element where she escapes to and becomes more aware of how she has hidden too much away and that is why she is struggling in the present.

It really delves into the blurred lines between reality and fantasy and how we all put up barriers to hide our true selves, and that sometimes the nightmares we face are often the key to understanding how to move on.

Eve is such a fascinating character – going from the carefree, happy childhood she shared with her family, through the horrors of war and how that ripped her heart apart, and then how she moved to London to be with her aunt and uncle who weren’t big on sharing their feelings which made her feel closed off and why she now feels the need to see a psychotherapist to try and shed light on the meaning of the nightmares, and her behaviour and her craving for nothingness as she lives life in limbo.

The fantasy world element of Enanti, was one I wasn’t expecting but it worked so well in this context. It felt surreal but grounded and spoke to me as a reader with its’ messages of how you deal with tragedy in your life, how we all ‘hide in plain sight’ through tougher times and that feeling of letting go and not trying to control every emotion. The fantasy element was part of her coping mechanism and allowed her to see things more clearly and really added emotional depth to the story.

This was a haunting, thoughtful and powerful story that I devoured in one sitting as I just couldn’t tear myself away from Eve and her journey. The imagery really popped off the page too which brought the story to life. A truly memorable reading experience and one I won’t forget for a long while. Highly recommended!!

Karen Mace 5/5

The Shifting Pools by Zoe Duncan
Lightning Books 9781785630361 pbk Jul 2017

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