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A powerful new voice in Australian literary fiction

‘Such striking tender beauty.’
—Holly Ringland


About the book

Ava and her two young sons, Max and Teddy, are driving to their new home in Sheerwater, hopeful of making a fresh start in a new town, although Ava can’t but help keep looking over her shoulder. They’re almost at their destination when they witness a shocking accident—a light plane crashing in the field next to the road. Ava stops to help, but when she gets back to the car, she realises that somewhere, amongst the smoke, fire and confusion, her sons have gone missing … 

From a substantial new Australian writing talent, Sheerwater is tense, emotional, unforgettable. Perfect for readers of Mark Brandi’s Wimmera and Stephanie Bishop’s The Other Side of the World, this is a beautifully written, propulsive, gut-wrenching and unputdownable novel—an aching, powerful story of the heroic acts we are capable of in the name of love.

Sheerwater by Leah Swann
23 March 2020 |
9781460758632 | $32.99


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Advance praise

Sheerwater is that rare gift of a book that balances gorgeous, glittering language with breathless pace. Leah Swann writes with devastating honesty … This is an extraordinary novel—I tore through it, captivated by the imagery and the setting, desperately hoping for a happy ending.’—Rebecca Starford, author of Bad Behavior


A word from Leah Swann on ‘Sheerwater’

The story explores the fearsome ambiguity at the core of some relationships—in this case a marriage, where all that was trusted has become slippery—a vortex that’s also what the title, Sheerwater, means to me. This weird psychic dimension to human relationships is often illogical to outside observers—we so often say things like ‘Why doesn’t he just do this or that, it just seems obvious’. It’s a very human trait to judge before we understand. But the individual is ‘at sea’—floating or swimming or struggling in this deep, complex and mysterious emotional realm. And when people get desperate it can lead to madness or violence or death. But this is also the point where people can remake themselves, save themselves—and each other. The person steps out of it, like stepping onto dry land, and you recognise them—he or she is returned from this other world that secretly exists in plain sight in our world, so to speak. The images when I think of it are always to do with water—when I was fourteen I was caught in a rip and could not see the shore, only sea and sky. Water is often a symbol of the emotions or the soul. This is a real but not physical place. There are no landmarks. This to me is Sheerwater.

Sheerwater is for readers interested in human dynamics and the ways people try to inspire, persuade, influence and manipulate each other in subtle, almost unsayable ways. It’s for anyone who has been undermined by another to the point of losing their sense of identity. It’s also about the incredible, even sacrificial, love between parents and children.

(Picture credit: Julia Nance)


Sample chapter

Read the first chapter of Sheerwater here.


Advance copy giveaway

Join the Sheerwater love and if you haven’t yet received a copy of this powerful debut, email to secure your copy.




Contact us


Kelsey Oldham

Digital editor
Brad Jefferies

Acting editor, Daily
Matthia Dempsey

Editorial assistant
Anthea Yang

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