About the author
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 Gargouille. Hydra is her debut novel.
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 startlingly original novel, like its eponymous Greek and Roman legendary creature, contains many faces, twists, and turns, and yet works cohesively as a story of great intrigue and black humour. At first drawing the reader in with its compelling narrator and brilliant use of metaphor and language (particularly in her description of Queen Anne furniture!), the story unravels towards something darker, more sinister – while never veering away from that unique sardonic humour. This is a truly weird and awe-some book in the best sense of those words, with an eccentricity that is never posturing or forced.
“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