Water Shall Refuse Them

Title: Water Shall Refuse Them

Writer: Lucie McKnight Hardy

Publishing House: Dead Ink

Date of Publication: July 4th 2019

Rating: 5 stars

‘’There’s a special time of day, when light is caught in limbo. Dusk: that time when the twilight dips to a level where light and dark start to merge, and everything takes on a silvery, ghost-like sheen, when it’s difficult to tell where one thing ends and another begins, and the lines of things are all blurred together.’’

Nif and her family travel to Wales for a summer break. Fate has struck a terrible blow within the heart of the family and a change will hopefully be the herald of a turning point in their lives. But not all changes are welcome. Nif is standing at a crossroads, neither a girl nor a woman. Her parents are drawing in a sea of tension and a peculiar boy seems to haunt her steps. As the 1976 heatwave unfolds, Nif has to place her trust in herself, her Creed, and…Is there actually anything or anyone else she can trust? Your own self seems to be the only safe refuge.

Or is it really a refuge?

‘’When I was younger, I used to see if I could make myself cry by imagining myself dead.’’

Lucie McKnight Hardy creates a story whose layers reveal themselves page after page, and then they withdraw in a lyrical, eerie hide-and-seek. A girl is coming of age in the most conflicting circumstances while being a ‘’mother’’ to her little brother. Her mother is spending her days in an endless limbo, her father shuts the door to all his problems, willing them to – magically – go away. The village is populated by harsh people, stuck in a dark past. Her neighbours seem enticing but the cracks are visible. And where is this much-needed escape? 

Written in elegant, atmospheric prose with inspiration from the vast wealth of British Folk Horror, with eerie scenes that will haunt your mind (the ‘’exorcism’’ of the house is a masterpiece in itself!), Water Shall Refuse Them is an outstanding novel of loss, despair, guilt, bewilderment, isolation. 

A haunting folk tale of mysticism, sensuality and sorrow…

‘’What do you think about when you wake up in the middle of the night, when the light has gone and the darkness is everywhere?’’