Here we are at the end of January and we are going to be looking into my reading journey for the year. This time it is Rae Knowles’s novella Merciless Waters


About The Book



The sea never changes. Neither do Lily and Jaq.

Aboard the ship Scylla, there is no future or past. Jaq, her fickle lover Lily, and their all-female crew exist in an endless present. It’s better this way. At least it keeps Lily by Jaq’s side, where she belongs. But the meddling gods care little for Jaq’s longing, and despite her protective rituals, their punishment arrives all the same:

A man, adrift on the open ocean. Delivered to snatch Lily from Jaq’s arms forever.

Jaq knows what to do. She’s lost Lily before. Her lover will return—when this interloper, this distraction, is snuffed out. But Jaq’s murderous schemes may not be enough. The intruder’s presence infects her crew with a plague her spells cannot cure: memory. And as the women recall how they came to Scylla, their minds bend one by one towards revenge.

Including Lily’s. Especially Lily’s.

Now Scylla draws closer to shore, leaving Jaq with an impossible choice. Deny Lily and evoke her ire. Or join her—and possibly lose her for good.


Darkly evocative, Merciless Waters tells the story of Jaq, Lily and the seven-woman crew of the Scylla. A ship that travels through the waters of the Adriatic, captained by the enigmatic captain Lucinda.

One day, whilst sailing the seas of the Adriatic, the Scylla rescues Reginald who is for some reason shipwrecked. What they don’t bargain for is that Reginald will irrevocably change their lives for ever. As the man becomes more ensconced on the ship, Jaq’s lover, Lily has a dalliance with the man and this subsequently brings with it something that that they could not foretell. The bringing of memory that breaks through their endless present, and how they happened to aboard the Scylla, that ultimately leads to thoughts of revenge.

With an almost dreamlike, fairytale quality, Rae Knowles’ Merciless Waters is a sapphic and feminine novel about rage and the violence of men.

Like Reginald lost at sea, the reader is buffeted with a general disorientation with the story and the how the plot unfolds. But like a flower, the story opens up to its main vista as we learn the story of how the various women came to be aboard the Scylla.

From the very first page, I was entranced by Knowles’s lyrical prose as she tells the story of various women aboard the Scylla and the events leading up to them being aboard Scylla. I loved Knowles’s prose as she magically traverses the lines between erotic to soul destroying.

In addition to this, she effectively incorporates Slavic folklore that weaves a spell on the reader.

This book took me by surprise with its intensity, strangeness and beautiful prose. 


Thank You For Reading


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