Effy Sayre has been an ardent fan of Emyrs Myrrdin ever since she was a child, holding close to her heart the story of Angharad which she finds a deep connection with. Despite her deep love of literature, she is a woman and women are not allowed in the literature college so she settles for the next highest college - the architecture college. When an opportunity arises for an architecture student to design Hiraeth Manor, the late Myrrdin’s home, Effy enters her name for the opportunity - and is chosen!

But designing Hiraeth Manor is an impossible task: it is literally crumbling into the sea. On top of that, when Effy arrives at Hiraeth, she finds literature student Preston Héloury there to study Myrrdin’s papers, determined to prove that he was a fraud. Despite their initial animosity, the two work together to investigate Myrrdin’s legacy - one trying to discredit him and the other hoping to redeem him - and find that Hiraeth’s foundation may not be the only thing that can’t be trusted.

It’s the season for dark academia and this story is the perfect addition to any TBR seeking those vibes. In this breathtakingly atmospheric tale, we follow a young woman who is doing everything she can to just survive in the world. From a young age, Effy has been spoken down to and her experiences discounted simply because she is a woman. Effy is heartbreakingly relatable, a character who is lost and struggles with her mental health but still finds a way to stick around.

An entire generation (looking at you fellow millennials!) is going to find themselves relating to Effy’s struggles while reading this story. With Preston’s digging into Myrrdin’s history, Effy faces the potentiality of the fall of her biggest hero and idol. A work that she has found comfort in for the majority of her life gets called into question due to the muddy waters that the author ends up in. If you grew up entranced by a certain wizard and his world only to find that the author is an utter and complete bigot, you know exactly how this feels.

This story will leave you aching, for Effy and everyone involved. It is a beautiful story that causes you to question things you know and hold close the ones that mean something to you. Following Effy’s journey from the start to end, though it hurts at times, also brings hope - that one person can make a difference and can make changes happen. It's also a reminder that social stigma can (and should) be fought against, especially when it comes to mental health struggles.

Some content warnings for those who need them: sexual assault, abuse of power imbalance, sexism, parental rejection, parental death, amputation, child abandonment, discussion of child sacrifice, potential for drowning, and mental health stigma.

A STUDY IN DROWNING by the incomparable Ava Reid is available now and you will absolutely want to go here and get a copy for yourself now.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."