Shortlisted for the 2023 Stella Prize

Hydra – Adriane Howell

Fiction · Transit Lounge

Adriane Howell - Hydra

About the Book

Anja is a young, ambitious antiquarian, passionate about the clean and balanced lines of mid-century furniture. She is intent on classifying objects based on emotional response and when her career goes awry, Anja finds herself adrift. Like a close friend, she confesses her intimacies and rage to us with candour, tenderness, and humour.

Cast out from the world of antiques, she stumbles upon a beachside cottage that the neighbouring naval base is offering for a 100-year lease. The property is derelict, isolated, and surrounded by scrub. Despite, or because of, its wildness and solitude, Anja uses the last of the inheritance from her mother to lease the property. Yet a presence – human, ghost, other – seemingly inhabits the grounds.

Hydra is a novel of dark suspense and mental disquiet, struck through with black humour. Adriane Howell beguilingly explores notions of moral culpability, revenge, memory, and narrative – all through the female lens of freedom and constraint.

“This is a truly weird and awesome book in the best sense of those words, with an eccentricity that is never posturing or forced.”

– 2023 Stella Prize Judges

About the Author

Adriane Howell

Adriane Howell is a Melbourne-based writer and arts worker. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing. She is co-founder of the literary journal GargouilleHydra is her debut novel.

Further Reading


Hydra is an addictive concoction of caustic humour, painfully accurate psychological scrutiny and Gothic wildness … Without a doubt, Hydra is one of the strongest debut novels of the year.” – Jackie Tang, Readings Monthly

“Adriane Howell’s debut novel Hydra is unsettling and dreamlike … thrilling and haunting.” – Danielle Bagnato, Books + Publishing

“This elegant debut is sinuous and strange.” – Imogen Dewey, The Guardian


Read an interview with Adriane Howell on In Their Own Write

Hear Adriane Howell discuss Hydra on Beyond the Zero podcast


Judges’ Report

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