The subtle writing gives the story an almost whisper-like quality that makes the reader draw in close to the story,
Every now and then a book a book comes into your reading life that has the power to move you in a profound and deeply personal way. It doesn't happen that often, which in a way is a good thing as it doesn't dilute the impact of reading a powerful and talented author.
Bodies of Water by V H Leslie is one such book, a split narrative story that links Victorian London with modern life in a newly redeveloped London residential property. Where the use of a water as a narrative device allows the two narratives to diffuse together to create a wonderfully evocative modern Gothic story of the highest caliber.
Evelyn has been working with the so called fallen women of Victorian London, and when the stress and strains of her work take their toll on her she is sent to Wakewater Hall a Hydropathy residential home that uses water as a therapeutic treatment for various physical and mental conditions. While here she finds herself drawn to Milly, and falls in love with her, and it is the events of her relationship with Milly that traverse the boundaries of time, carried along on dark and uncaring currents of the river Thames.
Kirsten, who has recently broken up with her boyfriend moves into Wakewater Hall, which in its present day form has been converted in a modern residential property, lost and battered and bruised Kirsten's plight is similar to many of the Victorian residents of the hall. Haunted by her past life and the Ghosts of Wakewater Hall, Kirsten relationship attempts to discover the truth behind the events that happened at Wakewater Hall.
Bodies of Water is a novel of fractured beauty and evocative story that takes a compassionate look at the plight of women in Victorian times and at the plight of those who feel lost and at sea after the break-up of a relationship. The subtle writing gives the story an almost whisper-like quality that makes the reader draw in close to the story, and when Leslie brings out the chills, the intimacy of the reading experience adds to the feeling of dread. There are some real moments of genuine terror, but it is the pervading coldness of the narrative that provides the real scares of the story. The ever evading presence of water throughout and the shadow figure that exists in both time frames works to provide, along with the actual location, a sense of detachment to the events that take place. Water may well be the source of life, but in this story the water doesn't care, it cares not for the lives it takes, and doesn't care about the way it invades Kirsten's life and apartment. Like an unforgiving God, the water is aloof to those that it encounters.
Leslie tackles some powerful themes through out the narrative such as the way women were treated in Victorian times and the need for people to feel free from their past. Leslie tackles these issue with a poignant confidence that moves the reader with a deftness that only comes from being fully understanding the subject matter.
Bodies of Water is a modern Gothic masterpiece, a haunting and moving story filled with rich, tender writing and an ending that manages to be both melancholic and uplifting at the same time, it is a confident start to Leslie's novel writing career.