Wednesday 20 March 2013

Drowning Instinct - Ilsa J Bick

Pages: 343
Publisher: Quercus
Release Date: 28th February 2013
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Ashes, Shadows

Falling for a teacher breaks all the rules...
... what if he wants to break them to?

Jenna’s parents say they love her. So why do they ignore her?

Jenna’s brothers says he loves her. So why hasn’t he visited in years?

Jenna’s teacher says he loves her. He treats her well, he protects her and tells her she’s beautiful.

Mr Anderson is the only one she can trust.

So why is Jenna telling her story to a detective?

Ilsa J Bick’s Ashes trilogy is one of my favourites at the moment so I seriously excited to discover that she’s written a contemporary novel. I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest – Drowning Instinct blew me away.

One of the things that first struck me about Drowning Instinct was just how different it seemed. Jenna telling the story of falling in love with her teacher to a detective is immediately intriguing and the dramatic and ambiguous prologue only intensified that. I was already hooked. Jenna proceeded to tell her story in to a Dictaphone like the scenes of a film. It’s such an original idea and I haven’t come across a form like that before. I loved it.

The relationship between Jenna and Mr Anderson/Mitch was of course at the heart of the novel. I kept having to remind myself that he was her teacher and that I really, really shouldn’t want anything to happen between them. But that’s one of the many things about Drowning Instinct that makes it so special: he wasn’t just her teacher, he’s a person too. I immediately saw in Mitch what Jenna did and I eventually forgot that it was technically ‘wrong’ for them to be together.

There isn’t a character in this novel that isn’t broken in one way or another, Jenna especially. So many issues are broached through her and those around her: abuse, self-harm, alcoholism and more. Jenna went through an unthinkable amount before the novel even started and she wasn’t doing too badly now as Drowning Instinct began, but Mitch helped her even more. She helped him too. That’s one of the reasons why I couldn’t see him as a predator in any way and I really don’t think he is. I did have doubts though and there were a few things that set me on edge. This really amped up the tension in the novel, especially with the events of the prologue hovering in the back of my mind – I couldn’t tear myself away.

Just like Jenna had had a life before Drowning Instinct, I felt like she did after the novel as well, but not in a needs-a-sequel kind of way. In that’s-life kind of way. There were unanswered questions and doubts and feelings that weren’t concretely resolved and I thought that was brilliantly. Her relationship with Mitch was her life during the novel, but it’s really only a chapter and the idea of that really stuck with me.

Drowning Instinct is compelling, thoughtful and beautifully written. I adored every word of it and I implore each and every one of you to go and read it. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Thanks to Quercus for sending me a copy to review.



  1. I read this last year and absolutely adored it. What a fantastic book! So sad and yet, an open ended ending. What did happen to Mitch?

  2. Wow, I haven't heard of this one - but it sounds fantastic. By the sound of your review it sounds like it shows things aren't always black and white! Fantastic review :)

  3. I loved this one too, it was incredible and I had the same thoughts as you with forgetting that it was 'wrong' for anyhting to happen between Jenna and Mitch!


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