Skip to content

A Summer of Drowning
by John Burnside

RRP €11.99

A Summer of Drowning
by Author Name John Burnside

Book details for title
List Price:11.99
Format: Paperback, 198 x 129 x 21mm, 336pp
Publication date: 01 Mar 2012
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN-13: 9780099422372

Dubray Review

A remote Norwegian island in the Arctic Circle is the perfect setting for this eerie and darkly powerful novel.  Liv, the 28 year-old daughter of a reclusive artist, is looking back on the events of one particular summer when two local boys mysteriously drowned in quick succession. A summer in which Liv spent an increasing amount of time with an elderly neighbor, Kyrre Opdahl, hearing long forgotten stories of trolls, mermaids and, most disturbingly of all, of a spirit who lured young men to a premature death. A Summer of Drowning was shortlisted for this year's Costa Book Awards and deservedly so. Once you step into its dreamlike environment, filled with supernatural folktales and a midnight sun, you'll find it hard to step back out again – and harder still to forget when you finally put it down.

- Tony O’Neill, Blackrock


A young girl, Liv, lives with her mother on a remote island in the Arctic Circle. Her only friend is an old man who beguiles her with tales of trolls, mermaids, and the huldra, a wild spirit who appears as an irresistably beautiful girl, to tempt young men to danger and death. Then two boys drown within weeks of each other under mysterious circumstances, in the still, moonlit waters off the shores of Liv's home. Were the deaths accidental or were the boys lured to their doom by a malevolent spirit?


"It's very, very rare for a writer to be equally good at poems and novels. John Burnside is. He's a brilliant poet, a brilliant memoirist, and a brilliant novelist ... breathtakingly good" -- Christina Patterson Independent "The most defining aspect of Burnside's work aside from its linguistic exactness is the beauty of his prose. Quite simply, he is a wonderful writer. Whatever he is writing always seems real and, considering much of the content of this new novel, that is a considerable asset for any storyteller" -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times "Burnside allows the ambiguity to remain in a hauntingly memorable book" -- Nick Rennison Sunday Times "In this beautifully sustained novel madness, mystery and myth-making collide. Burnside has an eerie attunement to the ineffable nature of existence and the fictions we construct to navigate and explain it" -- Adam O'Riordan Financial Times "The novel invites you to view storytelling as akin to madness...In a book that often makes coded reference to itself to provoke serious thought as to what fiction is about, this counts as a joke. Its evasions may discomfit those who like to know exactly where they stand, but those who enjoy being teased as well as spooked should relish an eerie, ethereal novel that alludes to Lewis Carroll and uses methods of Hitchcock and David Lynch" Daily Telegraph