Tense, Emotional, Unforgettable: Review of Sheerwater by Leah Swann

Tense, Emotional, Unforgettable: Review of Sheerwater by Leah Swann

‘The sight of the riotous sea perversely created a peaceful, crisp and even sweet sensation through her limbs, a coolness like moonlight gathering in the garden before the night gets old. She smiled, she couldn’t help it, some buoyant, forgotten self was stretching out and humming nearly there, nearly there, when she caught sight of something wrong in the sky.’

From a substantial new Australian writing talent, Sheerwater is tense, emotional, unforgettable.

Ava is taking her two young boys Max and Teddy to Sheerwater, a small town on The Great Ocean Road. There is a sense of urgency and it’s evident that Ava won’t be able to relax until they have arrived at their destination. Ava and the boys are starting a new life – they are running from something or someone.

When Ava sees a small plane go down in a field they are passing, she doesn’t want to stop. They are almost at the town of Sheerwater where she is hoping they will find some respite, but she can’t walk away from someone who needs help. She leaves the boys safe in the back seat of the car and makes them promise not to move before running towards the smoking wreckage.

Ava is a hero, but that is little compensation when she returns to the car and finds that the boys are missing. All that remains in the back seat is their dog. Have the boys left the car or have they been taken? So, begins the gripping story of Ava’s desperate search for her missing sons.

Sheerwater is compelling reading that is being compared to Wimmera by Mark Brandi and The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop. Despite it being almost physically painful to witness the fear that Ava and her little boys experience, there is an urgency in the writing that makes you read on because you must know what the conclusion is – no matter which way it goes.

Author Leah Swann explores dysfunctional relationships, power and control and a mother’s powerful love for her children. She also looks at community and the way it can band together to help someone when needed – the compulsion to help and give vs the compulsion to possess.

This is an extraordinary literary debut; the writing is beautifully evocative and the intertwining narratives of the main characters seamless. It’s tender, it’s suspenseful and you’ll be wanting to see so much more from Leah Swann – I ignored everything for a day to rip through the pages and loved every minute of it.



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        Publisher details

        Leah Swann
        23 March, 2020


        Emotional, powerful, unforgettable. From a stunning new literary talent, you won't be able to put down this novel about a mother's love for her children - it will break your heart.Ava and her two young sons, Max and Teddy, are driving to their new home in Sheerwater, hopeful of making a fresh start in a new town, although Ava can't but help keep looking over her shoulder. They're almost at their destination when they witness a shocking accident - a light plane crashing in the field next to the road. Ava stops to help, but when she gets back to the car, she realises that somewhere, amongst the smoke, fire and confusion, her sons have gone missing...From a substantial new Australian writing talent, Sheerwater is tense, emotional, unforgettable. Perfect for readers of Mark Brandi's Wimmera and Stephanie Bishop's The Other Side of the World, this is a beautifully written, propulsive, gut-wrenching and unputdownable novel - an aching, powerful story of the heroic acts we are capable of in the name of love.
        Leah Swann
        About the author

        Leah Swann

        Leah Swann is an award-winning author and journalist currently employed at World Vision Australia as the CEO's chief speech writer. Her critically acclaimed collection of stories, Bearings, was published by Affirm in 2011. Her fantasy series for middle grade readers, Irina: The Trilogy, was published by Xoum between 2012 and 2015, with some young readers calling it 'the best book since Harry Potter'. Swann was the inaugural first place winner of the Overland Story Wine prize for her story That Inward Eye. Swann's literary fiction, poetry and essays have been published in Meanjin, The Best Australian Stories, The World To Come, Australian Love Stories, Award Winning Australian Writing, page seventeen, Review of Australian Fiction, Australian Country Style, Reflecting on Melbourne, and The Glasgow Herald.

        Books by Leah Swann


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