SHORTLISTED, THE STELLA PRIZE 2023
‘From the treacherous auction houses of Melbourne to the sun-struck islands of Greece, Hydra took me places I never expected to go. Adriane Howell writes with the dreamy precision of Marguerite Duras, the humour-laced disquiet of Patricia Highsmith. A fever dream of a debut – elegant, savage, and delightfully unhinged.’
Laura Elizabeth Woollett, author of Beautiful Revolutionary and The Newcomer
‘A puzzle box of creeping dread, Hydra had me questioning my own grasp on reality. This is sophisticated, genre-defying literary fiction of the first order.’
Bram Presser, author of The Book of Dirt
‘Hydra crosses planes; it is superb, distinct, and breathtaking. It surprises, disturbs and enthrals at every turn.’
Angela Meyer, author of A Superior Spectre and Moon Sugar
Anja is a young, ambitious antiquarian, passionate for the clean and balanced lines of mid-century furniture. She is intent on classifying objects based on emotional response and when her career goes awry, Anja finds herself adrift. Like a close friend, she confesses her intimacies and rage to us with candour, tenderness, and humour.
Cast out from the world of antiques, she stumbles upon a beachside cottage that the neighbouring naval base is offering for a 100-year lease. The property is derelict, isolated, and surrounded by scrub. Despite of, or because of, its wildness and solitude, Anja uses the last of the inheritance from her mother to lease the property. Yet a presence – human, ghost, other – seemingly inhabits the grounds.
Hydra is a novel of dark suspense and mental disquiet, struck through with black humour. Adriane Howell beguilingly explores notions of moral culpability, revenge, memory, and narrative – all through the female lens of freedom and constraint. She holds us captive to the last page.