Cover Image: A Study in Drowning

A Study in Drowning

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Member Reviews

This fantasy book takes us on a journey. This is a YA story but I feel it is slightly heavier than YA but beautifully written. 
Thank you #harperteen  and #NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review
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A study in drowning was a bit of a disappointment. I was very interest in the world and story in the beginning and there was too much focus on the love story and not enough on world building. The mystery fell flat for me at the end.
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Beautiful prose!

18yo Effy loves literature and desperately wants to attend the literature college but has settled for the architectural college where she’s the only female student. Her advisor has taken advantage of her and holds it over her head and now she’s shunned by the other students. She applies for the chance to draw plans for her favorite author’s new home, partly to escape the stigma surrounding her at school and mostly to get the opportunity to meet the late author’s family and see his home where he wrote her favorite works. She’s surprised but thrilled when she’s chosen. When Effy arrives at the manor, she’s shocked at its dilapidated state and the darkness that seems to surround it. She meets Preston, a literature student writing his thesis on the same author, and Ianto, the enigmatic son who runs the manor and wants Effy to quickly draw the blueprints for the updated manor. The mysterious surroundings pull Effy and Preston into dangerous territory and they have to fight for everything they believe in if they’re going to survive.

Likes/dislikes: An absolutely perfect example of magic realism. Effy is a strong character struggling with the lack of rights for women. Preston is a gentleman through and through.
Mature Content: PG-13 for sex with minimal detail
Language: PG-13 for 14 swears and no f-words.
Violence: PG-13 for sexual harrasment and bullying by classmates.
Ethnicity: Ethnicity is predominantly white. Preston has fawn-colored skin.
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This was such a fun read I loved it so much I couldn't put it down and was completely hooked from the first page
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I absolutely loved this read.  Ava Reid gives us another dark and gothic story that takes us on an unexpected journey while tackling themes that some shy away from.
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I received this ARC for free in exchange for an honest review. 

 A Study in Drowning pulls you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Ava Reid did such a great job of writing a book you don’t want to put down. I loved the mystery of it and the characters. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy of this book. 

This book was wonderful! I felt the main character's loneliness and solitude early in the book, and while she was still a bit naïve, she was very loveable. The writing style is beautiful. There were so many great quotes in the book that spoke to me. Highly recommend!
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A Study in Drowning is an impeccable study in world building - the writing is atmospheric and full, while also filling you full of dread. It was definitely one of those books where you think, "I'm not happy to be here, but I'm intrigued. Proceed." The uncomfy feeling that sat on my chest through this story made it harder to read, but the writing made it hard to look away. It was an interesting reading experience for sure.

While I loved the premise of the story and the tidbits of magic and horror that we get, I feel like much of the problems the characters run into are solved too easily. Need to find proof of something? Go from point A to point B and tada - it's right there waiting for them. A lot of things felt too convenient which often pulled me out of the story.

Additionally, the romance felt too quick. Effy is so rude to Preston when he, objectively, has done nothing to actually offend her. They weren't rivals, really, Effy was just a classist B who needed someone to yell at since everyone else was a misogynistic a-hole. I didn't like her a lot because of that, and their declarations of feelings came much too fast when that was the base of their relationship. It was not for me, honestly.

I did love the overall message. It didn't feel preachy - in fact, it felt magical and I loved that. The way Ava Reid weaved together the story and connected all the dots at the end was absolutely brilliant and I almost wish we could've scrapped the whole romance plot for more depth into the magic of the world. 

All in all, this was a solid read, but the stakes for the obstacles they faced (other than a few obvious big ones) felt so low and too easy. I wish there was a bit more meat to those aspects, but enjoyed the book as a whole.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 3.5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

TW: misogyny, sexism, sexual harassment, sexual assault, grief, injury detail, PTSD, mental illness, emotional abuse, blood; mentions death of a parent, abandonment, adult/minor relationship, xenophobia

eARC gifted via NetGalley by HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review.
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This was amazing. I loved how atmospheric it was. The writing was luscious and Ava Reid created the perfect gothic atmosphere. Like Ava Reid other books this one is also filled with gorgeous metaphors, symbolism, historical and literary references. The world building was done so well and I definitely recommend.
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Initial Thoughts:

I thought about giving this 3 stars, but the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.

I had so many issues with Effy's rampant xenophobia towards Argant, which conveniently went away when Preston said some pretty sounding words in Argantian.

And then after Effy falls in love with Preston, her shitty attitude towards Argantians just went poof. Someone make it make sense....


This was one of my highly anticipated reads because of all the hype on booksta, but in the end, I don't know if Ava Reid is right for me. Which doesn't make sense because I love all the themes and tropes in this novel (and Juniper and Thorn too): dark academia, misogyny in academia (and life in general), women's lack of agency, strict gender roles, mental illness stigmatization.

But somehow, I'm not really meshing with the author's books. I'm not someone who needs a happy ending, but with Ava Reid's novels, everything is bleak and terrible and there's barely even a hint of hope or happiness at the end.

I think that's one of my huge issues with this novel. Effy's moments of happiness are based on her relationship with the love interest (and this only occurs in the last third of the novel).

Because absolutely nothing in her life is going well. Her mother is abusive. All of the men are disgusting creeps. She's doing terribly in the architecture college. Even with meds, her mental illness is debilitating. (Girl needs major therapy.)

The only solace she finds (before major plot point reveals) is in a book about Angharad and the Fairy King.

Sure, she becomes the first woman in the literature college and her abuser is fired, but these wins read like throwaway lines at the end of the novel. I honestly almost forgot that these two things happened.

I know this is some people's lived realities, but I'm that kind of person who has major issues with women only finding happiness with a man. Or women having zero friends (of any gender) and having the love interest be their be-all and end-all.

Thematically, nothing was explored on a deep enough level for me to be fully satisfied with the characterization. The main plotline was the only thing I enjoyed.

For example, Effy's xenophobia towards Argant. Sure, you can excuse this as fiction, but her xenophobic attitudes towards Preston just disappeared halfway into the book because she started falling for him. There's no self-reflection or introspection on why she had a deep-seated hatred towards Argant in the first place (unless I missed it?) when that was such a huge part of the novel in the first half.

Maybe it's because I'm a WOC, but if an author wants to include this huge plot point, it better have a satisfying conclusion. Sadly, it didn't.

Oh, and the fact that Effy honed in on Preston's nationality? (ethnicity?) when she found out that an Argantian student borrowed the library books she wanted? And that was pretty much all she focused on? That made me really uncomfortable.

In the end, Effy's character felt very damsel in distress and unrelatable. Sure, she lives in a very sexist world where a woman practically requires a man to get by in the world, but shouldn't she at least have one positive interaction with another woman? Effy literally has no friends other than throwaway characters at the end that barely even count.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just being a hater.

Thank you to HarperTeen and NetGalley for this arc.
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There are not many dark academia books in YA that I would be able to hand sell honestly. Study in Drowning is different enough that it is easy to talk to customers about.
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A Study In Drowning is a dark gothic tale mixed in with some fairytales. I loved the combination of the two but felt the execution of it just didn’t hit. It dragged from chapter one all the way to the end. Shorter chapters might of helped, but I might just be nitpicking. 

I wanted to like Effy but I tend to prefer stronger female leads and she just wasn’t it. Effy spent the majority of the book either fighting tears or sobbing during almost every interaction with another character. I understand she had been through some trauma but it was just tiring how weak the author made her. I wanted more from Effy as a female lead but the final conflict did finally deliver something satisfying. I just wish we had gotten some more spark of Effy’s strength throughout the book versus the very end.

The story also mildly covers some racism between the two different counties in the book. Southerners and Northerners. Effy does an incredible job at being a hypocrite when she meets Preston.  Preston himself wasn’t memorable and felt underdeveloped along with their romance. It was sudden and  felt forced. 

The final conflict as well was so sudden and wrapped up so quick I was kind of left thinking “all that for this?”. The mystery in the story was so glaringly obvious to me I wish there was more suspense to it. I absolutely loved the mix of gothic academia and fairy tales I just wish we got more of that. 

This was my first novel by this author and though it wasn’t something I overly enjoyed I’ll probably still try other books by her. I liked the narration for the most part, and loved the genre.
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Setting this book down for now as it wasn’t for me. Might try the authors books again in the future but this one wasn’t for me.
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While the synopsis of this book was intriguing the story did not live up to the hype. I found the FMC to be more adolescent that someone at the age to be going to university, she was also hypocritical.  There was also very minimal romance if that's what you are looking for.  This book was just not for me and I felt like I had to keep trudging along to get through it.  2.5 stars
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I had really high hopes for this one, unfortunately it did not live up to them. It was slow, tedious, I failed to root for the characters... I just did not have a good time. I did like the setting, as it was perfect for the fall weather. The ending felt rambling and like it could have been all said in an epilogue instead of dragging it a couple of more chapters. Good idea, poor execution.
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Oh gosh, I wish I loved this more, but I really didn't like it at all! I wish I had seen the trigger warnings but it's hard when reading an arc copy, because I probably wouldn't have requested this. I'm a big fan of Welsh mythology, but this was a confusing book to get through. It's like I was a distance from Effie forn90% of the book and it just felt like a slog to get through. I am probably not the ideal person for this book because of the triggers, but I can see how other people could take this book and feel seen and heard
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Thank you Frenzy Books for the eARC! I loved Juniper & Thorn, so I was quite excited to read her newest release. It’s got dark academia vibes, which I love, and there’s also some horror mixed in too. There’s also mentions of sexual assault in the plot, so keep that in mind before picking up this book. Regarding the characters, I was glad that Effy experienced some character growth and changed her racist views about Preston and Argantians. I wasn’t a huge fan of her romance arc with Preston because I didn’t get any feels for them, and I think they would’ve been fine as friends. I think that bit was mostly just there to help Effy heal from her SA experience. On a side note, I was so confused with where her missing ring finger came from, because it just randomly comes up in the middle of the book and then readers get an explanation. There wasn’t really any suspense built up. Also, I totally called the ending around halfway through the story. The one thing I absolutely loved was the world-building. I loved the atmosphere of the cliffside and the decrepit, spooky house. I loved all the chapter headings, and I thought they were so realistic, like the texts actually existed. I loved the Faerie King arc of the story as well. Overall, I loved the vibe and aesthetic of the story, but I think the characters needed some work, and the romance needed more chemistry.
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As much as I love Ava Reid's writing and I was hoping that A Study in Drowning would make me a dark academia did not. There isn't anything wrong or bad about this just wasn't it for me.
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Wow was I blown away and sucked into this story. It was heartbreaking and too many can identify with it. I loved the story arc and the ending has left me reeling with theories. This story will not be leaving me anytime soon. Effy is the survivor in all of us. I loved that the romance was a subplot and didn't overshadow the other elements in the book. There are so many take aways that I could reread this multiple times and walk away with a different felling, and to me that's what makes a good story exceptional. Very well done.
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I've deeply enjoyed everything I've read by Ava Reid, so when I saw A Study in Drowning I knew I had to read it. It's a story about waterlogged secrets that can never be drowned. About houses with terrible chilling wind that brings forth shadows in lingering glances. It's both heartbreaking and inspiring in the ways it tackles sexual assault and women's voices as well as love and speaking out. All the tears were shed and I couldn't stop reading even when I was waiting for my laundry to dry.
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