Recently longlisted for the Stella Prize, this debut novel is a chilling and always unexpected tale of ambition and dark desires. It begins with a terrifying prologue in which a young woman is under threat from snarling dogs, but then immediately shifts to a completely different genre: a satire of the business of an Auction House, defined by rivalry, good taste and an eye for profit. When the novel’s main character and first-person narrator, Anja, loses her job at the Auction House, she retreats to a run-down, heritage-listed cottage in the country. Her story then alternates with redacted military reports about the possible sightings in the area of a wild, predatory animal. The mysteries proliferate, the tension rises, and we begin to question Anya’s reliability, indeed her very sanity. Hydra is a wild ride: a gothic tale of humanity in the wild, in which ‘wildness’ is both physical and psychological. An enthralling, sometimes heart-stopping read.
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