The Drowning Girl - Caitlín R. Kiernan 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 idea that what we perceive as reality is a story that our mind constructs, then you might enjoy this tale.

Kiernan has been a favorite ever since I read [b:Alabaster|81059|Alabaster|Caitlín R. Kiernan||78261]. She’s a master at creating characters, settings and moods, and comes highly recommended. In Imp, the author has created an extraordinarily believable and sympathetic person. She’s not someone to be pitied – though we can sympathize with her troubles – but to be admired. She doesn’t retreat from the world but stands up to face it and find a way to be part of it. She’s an outlier – a schizophrenic – but her journey is essentially what we all have to do.

I think the moral of the book is best summed up in a quote from a review of Oliver Sack’s [b:Hallucinations|13330771|Hallucinations|Oliver Sacks||18538423] in the London Review of Books:

What hallucinations have to tell us might be that the inner workings of our senses are a riotous carnival, driven by an engine of unimaginable processing power whose most spectacular illusion is reality itself. (Vol. 35, No. 5)

Highly recommended, though not for the faint of heart.