The Drowning of Arthur Braxton - Book Review

Ever since I was little I have been an avid reader. I used to read about 15 books (that´s as much as my library allowed me to borrow) in 3 weeks. As I got older this number severely declined. But I always wanted to read so much more! So at the end of last year, I finally got a Goodreads account - yay! The first book they suggested to me was The Drowning of Arthur Braxton and with the glowing reviews and the note that it will be made into a movie soon, it didn´t took me long to read it.

I´m really trying to keep this spoiler-free, so read on! Also sorry, for the length of this, I tried to cut it down but I just couldn't *see-no-evil monkey emoji*

The Drowning of Arthur Braxton is a fiction novel written by Caroline Smailes. It´s described as an urban fairytale and I´d definitely sort it into the young adult, fantasy, mystery shelf. This book follows the story of Arthur and Delphina, two unusual teens who fall in love. No, let me stop you right there. This definitely isn´t your typical teenage romance novel! Instead the story goes much deeper and much darker.

I really tip my hat to Caroline for her brilliant writing style on this book. Besides the story it´s the thing that stuck with me most. I think the style of this book is what contributes not only to the story but so much to the characters as well. These characters could´ve so easily turned out stereotypically. I mean, we have a boy who gets bullied at school as the protagonist. That pretty much sounds like the start of every John Green novel out there. But this books takes a different approach. We only follow a few characters in this whole story and we get to see parts of the story from each of their points of views. Also every character has it´s very own style of writing which always really fits with its personality. You get to know the character not only by his actions but also by its direct thinking style.

There´s only so much you can say about each of the characters without taking the story away. First off, we have Arthur, a 16-year-old boy who gets bullied in school. One day after a severe bullying attack he runs away and finds shelter in an old, closed off bath called The Oracle. Arthur has definitely seen some bad things in his life and his hope in the world as a good place has been destroyed. Still he´s very caught up with himself and a bit ignorant to what´s going on around him. In The Oracle he meets Delphina, a 17-year-old girl who swims in one of the pools naked. Delphina´s just a bit naive as she deeply believes in love and what others tell her. But she´s also very clever and skeptical towards her destiny. Other characters we meet are Arthur´s Dad, his bullies and Delphina´s companions at The Oracle including Laurel, a 14-year-old girl who´s clever but naive.

I love that the focus is on a few characters rather than many. None of the characters are stereotypical. They are all so beautifully flawed and have bad things happen to them at random. They´re the odd ones out, the weird people and I just think that makes them very realistic and relatable. As the story evolves a lot of character development happens. Again this is an amazingly well-written and very thought out part of the book. While Delphina and Arthur develop in a forward motion and their intentions change the further we get into the story, the other characters develop rather in a backwards motion. As a reader you´re held in the dark about these characters until in the end their backstory is told and they finally become clear. Instead of developing through the actual story, they develop through their own past.

The story itself is mysterious and dark from start to finish. As every scene is only ever written from one point of view, you are completely left in the dark about what´s going on with other characters. Just as you get further in the book, you are allowed certain pieces of information that explain things you´ve read before but also leave you with just more and more questions. It´s really frustrating because there´s always just that one puzzle piece missing, so you just have to keep on reading. Honestly, that´s what drew me into the story so much. I couldn´t put this book down because I needed to know why it all happened! With every puzzle piece you gain you can also explain other little hints that are left in the book like the listing of elements for each character or the missing person reports before every of Arthur´s chapters. It´s a really nice touch that keeps me interested as a reader even after finishing the book.

Every few chapters the story turns around because of new information or because something you´d never expected happens. I love when I can´t predict the full story. In the end, I was feeling like it got a bit obvious what the characters would do but then the last chapter took me fully by surprise. There´s no chance I saw that coming! Every author that can do that deserves to win an award. Although I will say that as amazing, dramatic and surprising the ending was it leaves me hanging a bit. I still can´t fully wrap my head around what exactly happened and it´s not one of those endings that just explains everything. It ends the story but it just needs the reader to think as well. But then again, I love that.

I will say though that the story is quite out there and it´s very much fantasy. From the back of the book, I certainly wouldn´t have guessed so. It´s something you need to be open for if you read this book. Also you really should concentrate and be attentive while reading. The story is quite complex in its entirety. I tried explaining it to my dad and he just looked more confused with the minute. It´s more of an adult book, I feel, because the themes in it are quite dark. There´s speech of rape, harsh bullying and suicide in the story. I really wouldn´t suggest this for readers under 16. Personally, I think this book is amazing for everyone at the beginning of their twenties. It really makes you think, too, which I love when it comes to books.

It´s a really fantastic book that I couldn´t put down. I even took it on the bus with me and gave up a good night´s sleep for it - and with my love for sleep that´s saying something. The story gripped me from the start. The writing style took me a bit longer to get used to but when I realized it was not "bad writing" but a choice and an implementation for the character, I started to love it. Everything in this book is so well thought out. I can´t wait to read it a second time in the future and finally find all the hidden details!


  1. This book is going to be a read in my Book Club so I'm definitely looking forward to it now :) For a quite popular book I haven't heard an awful lot about it, though.

    Saoirse Sterling at XLeptodactylous

  2. Lovely review! I don't usually like out-and-out fantasy, but this book seems to have a darker edge to it, which would keep me reading!

    Abby x

  3. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST!I've a thing for dark books so it's definitely going on my tbr list right now.

    Not Your Type Blog


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