Member Reviews

Thank you to the publishers for the ARC!

I'm finding this review tricky to write, as there were things about The Watermark which I loved, but I also feel it's deeply flawed. There are the bones of something wonderful, but the narrative doesn't flesh them out.

Jaime thinks he's going to conduct an interview with the famous writer, Augustus Fate, and that will be that. Unfortunately, that isn't that. Fate, who is struggling to give his characters personalities that come alive, drugs him and holds him hostage in his latest novel. There, Jaime discovers Rachel, the woman he's never met, but with whom he's fallen in love. They are both Fate's captives. The novel tells the story of their fictional explorations, their developing romance, and their attempts to escape. This involves travelling through four different books, each set in a different time period and location.

I LOVED the concept of this book, which is why I requested it and was grateful to be chosen for an ARC. Unfortunately, I struggled through most of it and came very close to quitting half-way through. Sam Mills' prose is strong and poetic, something distractingly so, but the writing was polished enough to pull me in. There are many beautiful lines expressing wonderful thoughts, which I highlighted to re-vist. I didn't find her storytelling equally compelling, due to the long stretches in which Jaime and Rachel simply wander around, thinking deeply about their relationship and situation. The Russian section, in particular, is torturously slow and repetitive. (FYI to the publisher, it's also full of glitches, sections missing, and the illustrations didn't show up on my Kindle. I just had blank pages.)

I'm taking a wild guess in suspecting that the author is a big fan of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (one my personal favourite novels) as The Watermark echoes it to an extent. In Cloud Atlas, however, each story written in a different genre felt very much like a it was written in a different genre. The writing style didn't really change between sections in the Watermark, however. The 2047 section didn't feel futuristic, the prose style wasn't that different from the style in the Manchester section. It all felt like it was written by the same author, which wasn't the case within the world-building.

I did very much enjoy the 2047 section, though. The characters came to life and the story progressed forward and kept me involved. I liked how the characters aged a bit through each section, as if passing through their lives. I suspect the book mused on many interesting ideas about fiction, immersion, choice, etc, but the story didn't keep me involved. I'll definitely keep thinking about this book, I just really wish the story-telling has been tighter and stronger. The world-building was also very vague and muddled, which wouldn't have bothered me so much if the story had held me hostage.

I enjoyed the ending, which I won't spoil.

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I really don’t know what genre you would call this, but it’s a great mindbender! There is a love story at the heart of it all. This was absolutely original and I was thoroughly entertained. Many thanks to NetGalley for an arc of this book

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Although it sometimes threatens to tipple under the weight of its own premise, The Watermark is both an audacious meta-literary romp and also a love letter to love. Like a hallucinogenic combination of Inception and Page Master, The Watermark is full of smarts and heart, even if it's own meta-ness is sometimes a bit too clever for its own sake.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book.

I really struggled with this and it has taken me ages to read. I am just not able to get my head around people appearing in books in the way described in this novel.

From the cover I thought the modern characters would appear in already written well known/classic books and interact with the characters but it is not at all like that. As far as I can make out they appear in a book which is being written by a modern author and they are alongside another author who is similarly imprisoned and who writes book in our world and also in the worlds of the books the main characters are in. Confused? I was.

I didnt like the Russian story at all, I felt it was even more confusing than the Victorian and Manchester ones. i didn't connect with any of the characters either so, unusually for me, I am struggling to find positive things to say.

Maybe there are all sorts of satire, profound thoughts and parallels with modern events going on but I did not pick up on any of these. I really must say this is just a 2.5 for me and i will round up to 3.

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This is such a brilliant idea for a book and I was definitely drawn to the premise. I felt so sorry for the couple trapped in what felt like a bit of an Alice in Wonderland-esque world, but the book did feel a little rushed in places.

If you can get past that, though, it is a very enjoyable story.

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