The Drowning of Arthur Braxton

The Drowning of Arthur Braxton

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The bestselling modern fairytale, with a new introduction from Luke Cutforth 'I loved it good!' CARRIE HOPE FLETCHER Arthur Braxton has had enough. His mum has left, his dad is broken and he's the laughing stock of his high school. But things are about to change. When Arthur runs away and shelters in an old abandoned bathhouse, he sees a naked woman swimming in the pool. From this point on, his sad little life will never be the more

Product details

  • Paperback | 371 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 26mm | 280g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0007479093
  • 9780007479092
  • 31,855

Review quote

'Magical, weird, wonderful, dark unique Northern brilliance' MATT HAIG '...there was so much about this book to love; the decrepit seaside setting, the terrible weather, the gritty realism, the magic, the freshness, the strangeness, and the way the story and the characters haunted me afterwards. I felt safe throughout this novel - I knew I was in good hands; with each change of voice and structure I remained confident in Smailes' ability to lead things to a satisfying conclusion. And that's exactly what she did' CARYS BRAY 'This thoroughly modern retelling is everything a fairy tale should be: strange, beautiful and wholly unexpected' TANYA BYRNE 'This beautifully told and sometimes disturbing tale will intrigue as it reaches its dramatic conclusion' Bella 'I cannot compare this to anything I've ever read. You will fall in love with this book' EMMA BLACKERY 'Someone should make this into a film' LUKEISNOTSEXYshow more

About Caroline Smailes

CAROLINE SMAILES worked as a lecturer for several years before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in Liverpool with her husband and their children. She can be found at and more

Customer reviews

I don't take to much in the way of contemporary writing. It is often bland (even if full of pretty sentences), pre-occupied with middle-class, first world concerns, and largely a waste of even the tiny amount of intellect required to read it. This book had none of that. It was captivating from the first and clearly had things to say and ideas to explore. What is more, it was evident that it was going to say and explore those things in an interesting way. Arthur Braxton is one of those kids that feral packs feed on. Consequently, he is one of those kids found lurking in out of the way places, exploring (whether willingly or not) the borderlands - between sanity and insanity, the upward climb and the downward fall, the outside world and the strange places inside their heads. Mostly, life grinds the poor sods down. Sometimes they shine. On rare occasions they escape into places we can barely dream of. Where Arthur goes, you will have to find out for yourself, because his journey is the story and to start talking about that would be to give things away, save to say, one of the places in which the borders exist is where water meets the land. It is along that strand that Arthur's journey proceeds. So far I have perhaps made this sound like a YA fantasy book of some kind. Well, there are elements of that and it could, no doubt, be read on that level. You'd be missing 99% of the book if you tried it that way. Because there are many other such elements running through the book, nods to this and that. Yet it never becomes any one of those because it is unique. It is its own story acknowledging popular culture along the way (it would take someone who hadn't been near a television in the last few years not to hear the echoes of the final words) without ever being trapped by any of it. That is down to two things, in the end. The first is a strong story. The second is a strong writer. It is not just popular culture that feeds the book. Indeed, much more important is myth. Certain myths featuring water. They are common to all myth cycles. Water is such a fundamental part of our existence, and clean water so fundamental to our survival and the fertility of the land, that it is no wonder every tribe and every nation has stories about the origins of streams, wells, springs, and pools; has stories about the guardians of such places, of the beings that inhabit them, of the curative qualities, of the terrible consequences of misusing them. Our native mythology is replete with such references, none more so than the Arthurian stories. Ladies in the Lake, swords appearing from and disappearing into water, battles fought at the water's edge, water as a source of healing and wisdom, and key to the Arthurian stories, the rape of the guardians of the wells that led to the wasteland and the quest to restore fertility to the land. As someone who has studied these tales for decades, it was a genuine thrill to see them explored so thoroughly in such a vibrant way that whilst paying all due respect to the source of such tales, made its own statement. It should not be taken from this that we have some kind of dull thesis, some rewriting of ancient myths. They are the source and the story drinks deeply of them in a way that displays a deep understanding of the archetypes. But what emerges as a result is a new story, a new myth for today, sung with a voice every bit as mesmerising as the bards of old. And if you still can't quite figure what kind of book this is, the film should be made by Terry Gilliam or by Jeunet and Caro. You can probably gather I like this book. I have a jaded opinion of modern writing, but this has restored my faith. Because for all that stuff about mythology, for all the fact that author here is doing for myth what Angela Carter did for fairy tales, at the heart of it all is a solid and heartbreaking story about ordinary folk and the truly ****** lives some of them lead. A story told with eloquence and sympathy. Buy it. The author deserves your more
by Graeme Talboys