Sheerwater by Leah Swann: Your Preview Verdict

Sheerwater by Leah Swann: Your Preview Verdict

Sheerwater is as confronting as it is human, reflecting the stark and traumatic realities of domestic violence. Leah Swann’s novel captivates right until the very end, making it an unforgettable and deeply terrifying tale that rings true for many.

Read some 5 star reviews from our Preview readers here:

Ok when is Leah Swann’s next book coming out? Sheerwater was a book I could not put down. At first I thought cool this is a mystery/thriller and was getting right into it and then it took a turn and was a story on relationships, parenthood and phycho partner but still I could not put it down. The book is written over three days and a mum is driving her two boys away from their father but along the way they witness a light plane crash and yes I probably would have done the same and helped being first on the scene if I had rescuer training. Making this decision to help change the fate of the family forever. I thought it was greatly written a kept me thinking did she do it, did he do it, who is lying, are they imagining things. My mind kept thinking and I had to keep reading. Oh how I wanted to pick up Max and Teddy and give them a massive hug, I really felt for the two little kids. I would definitely recommend Sheerwater to friends. A great emotional read with a gut wrenching ending. Plus, a great aussie read by an aussie author. – Maria, SA, 5 stars

What I thought would be a mystery book, Sheerwater by Leah Swann turned out to be something completely different & I was pleasantly surprised.  It’s about families, relationships, domestic abuse (which is big in the news in Australia at the moment) & about doing the right thing.   If Ava hadn’t stopped at the plane crash we wouldn’t have the story but it’s the should I/shouldn’t I stop but knowing the right thing to do. Everyone in the story is written so well & the ending is an emotional end to a very emotional story.   Thanks so much to better reading for my advance copy. – Terry, NSW, 5 stars

Leah Swann’s Sheerwater is an achingly beautiful and devastatingly honest book covering themes of truth, fear, power, control, domestic violence and above all, love.  A quest for a better life twisting cruelly toward tragedy.  The characters are skilfully drawn, with the standout Max, an innocent, earnest and loving boy trying his very best to deal with horrendously challenging situations. Intense, emotional, disturbing and heartbreakingly raw, Sheerwater is a book you will certainly not forget! – Imogen, VIC, 5 stars

I loved this book.  It was sad and it kept me hooked to see how it would turn out and what happened to the characters.  The mother was so strong but weak at the same time I felt so sorry for her.  Everyone needs to read this it’s a great book. – Beth, TAS,  5 stars

Wow, just wow! Sheerwater by Leah Swann is captivating from the very first chapter; the premise of the story is quite simple, but what unfolds as the narrative progresses is a convoluted web of emotional turmoil. This painfully beautiful text highlights the terrifying truth behind domestic violence which is told harrowingly through the different perspectives of both perpetrator and victim. Swann perfectly conveys the issues of perspective when it comes to domestic violence and how problematic blurred lines still are for protecting vulnerable families. While this book is a work of fiction, the vulnerability and manipulation is all too real and highly confronting. And the ending… is simply indescribable. Love the connection of place having lived along the southwest coast most of my life, and regularly frequent the places mentioned. What an utterly compelling yet deeply terrifying read, Leah Swann is a true wordsmith. This book is going to stay with me for a long time. Thank you as always for the advanced preview Better Reading! – Sarah, VIC, 5 stars

Sheerwater was the most powerful story I have read in a long time. I was unable to put this book down and wished I could have helped this brave family. The kindness and love shown by Gerald and Tillie was a truly beautiful part of the story. Unfortunately, this desperate story of domestic violence is only too relevant today. – Kelly, QLD, 5 stars

Fabulous read, fast paced nail biting, don’t forget to breath.  Sheerwater will stay with you long  after you have turned the last page.  Beautifully written although a dark subject that some would find hard to read.   Max and Teddy will  steal your heart before they break it. – Debbie, VIC, 5 stars

With a plane crash, victims dragged clear and two children missing from a car in the first dozen pages, Sheerwater is a highly topical, emotional read that grabs the attention from the start and does not let go until the final shocking conclusion. – Marianne, NSW, 5 stars

I recently received a copy of Sheerwater thanks to Better Reading and Harper Collins publishers Australia. #BRPREVIEW, Sheerwater is a gripping Australian drama which stats off with Ava and her son’s Max and Teddy on a road trip of a lifetime along the iconic Great Ocean road on the path to a new beginning after a traumatic period of their lives to a town called Sheerwater. Whilst on her way there she witnesses a traumatic accident and is compelled to stop and assist. Not wanting to traumatise her boys by what they may witness she tells them to remain in the car no matter what.  After doing all she can to assist she returns to the car to find they’ve vanished. The police aren’t overly concerned believing they’ve just wondered off when bored but Eva knows they wouldn’t have gone against her wishes. She can’t help getting a sinking feeling that its something to do with a car that was tailgating her for a long time before the accident.  The race is on to locate her boys before it’s too late, but there is no trace of them. She must remain calm and do everything to help find them despite hysteria threatening to bubble to the surface. It is a harrowing tale so relevant with incidents which have happened recently in Australia. It reminds us to hold on tight to loved ones and not take for granted the relationships we are blessed to have as we’re not guaranteed to have them forever. I loved this book it was easy to read and was narrated by all characters involved in the story. I strongly recommend everyone read this captivating but desperate tale. – Janet, NSW, 5 stars

“Sheerwater” is so good, you want to recommend it to everyone you know as soon as you’ve closed the covers. It is difficult to describe the plot without spoiling the terrifying tension Swann skilfully builds. It’s not overly complex, but extremely well executed. Much of this comes through Swann’s ability to take us into the emotional lives of all the characters – we’re drawn into their separate maelstroms of anger, terror, love, hate, and despair. And yes, it’s emotionally harrowing. I’m not going to forget “Sheerwater” for a long time. It feels grounded, despite the high pitch of the tension and events which are not necessarily everyday events. But the emotions ring true, and we’ve all seen similar stories in the news. It’s really hard to look away from this novel. Characters are believable, and the voices of men, women, and children are expressed with equal credibility. The setting is of less importance, but it too feels well rounded and real. Go and read this. It’s an extraordinary, powerful novel that will affect you deeply and stay with you. – Lorraine, ACT, 5 stars

Sheerwater by Leah Swann is simply heartbreaking yet such an important story to tell. I could barely put this book down, hoping and hoping that things would turn out right, knowing this is not how domestic violence works. This is such an important issue and Leah has done a fantastic job identifying the nuances of domestic violence through the story. It is hard reading, and probably not for everyone. But if you feel strong enough for the heartbreak, I highly recommend this book. – Alice, NSW, 5 stars

A moving book from start to finish beautifully written and heart breaking readers have the tissues ready. – Deborah, NSW, 5 stars


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

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      23 March 2020

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

        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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