Those We Drown

Those We Drown

by Amy Goldsmith
Those We Drown

Those We Drown

by Amy Goldsmith

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

Greek mythology meets a harrowing semester-at-sea in this atmospheric debut perfect for fans of Lore and There’s Someone Inside Your House. Dive into this story of eerie disappearances, a ship that holds secrets and the three Sirens on board who seem to be able to steer the boat’s operations.

An ocean-drenched, atmospheric horror debut! Liv's best friend disappears on their first night aboard their dream semester-at-sea program—but is he really sick, like everyone says, or is something darker lurking beneath the water?

It should have been the trip of a lifetime.

When Liv lands an all-expenses-paid opportunity to study aboard the luxury cruise ship The Eos for a semester, she can’t believe her luck. Especially since it will offer her the chance to spend time with Will, her ex–best friend, who’s barely spoken to her since the night their relationship changed forever.

But as soon as she steps on board, Liv realizes just how out of her depth she is. With Will, with the rest of the Seamester students—including the brittle and beautiful Constantine, who may be hiding his own ties to the Eos—and most of all, with the Sirens, three glamorous and mysterious influencers who seem to have the run of the ship.

Liv quickly discovers that the only reason she was invited to join the trip is because another girl disappeared shortly after enrolling—and no one seems to know what happened to her. When further disappearances rock the ship and strange creatures begin haunting Liv’s dreams, she wonders: Is the Eos hiding a dark secret within its shadowy decks?

The truth will come at a price . . . only, how much is Liv willing to pay?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593570128
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 07/02/2024
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 410,803
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Amy Goldsmith grew up on the south coast of England, obsessed with obscure 70s horror movies and antiquarian ghost stories. She studied Psychology at the University of Sussex and, after gaining her Postgraduate Certificate in Education, moved to inner London to teach. Now, she lives back on the south coast where she still teaches English and spends her weekends trawling antiques shops for haunted mirrors. Those We Drown is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt

1


The Eos had six decks, two swimming pools, five themed restaurants (one with an à la carte menu—whatever that meant), and a fully equipped gym.

The jewel of the Atlantic.

At that point, I could pretty much have worked as a rep for the damn ship, I’d spent so long obsessively rereading the single sheet of information SeaMester had provided, which Dad had wonkily printed at work. I’d folded and unfolded it, tracing the well-worn creases that obscured the ink in places, while barren fields and nameless gray towns flew by the window. Constantly checking that it was actually my name there, typed at the top, and not some mistake.

From ccs on the email confirming my place, I’d figured out there were six of us—including my friend Will and me—embarking on this grand opportunity across the Atlantic. The seventh name listed, the sender, was the group leader of this year’s SeaMester (Experience education—at sea!), one Mr. Justin Ashburnham, who, judging by the thumbnail on the SeaMester website, was almost as young as us.

An entire term at sea, calling at ports I’d only ever dreamed of visiting, all in the name of cultural enrichment—my eyes grew wider every time they scanned the list of destinations: New York, Miami, Buenos Aires, Barcelona.

Both Will and I had applied for the opportunity on a whim after a suggestion from Mr. Simmons, our form tutor, but neither of us had thought any more about it after we’d clicked the submit button. Winning some fancy enrichment trip aboard a cruise ship wasn’t supposed to happen to invisible kids like me. So months later, when the email from SeaMester pinged into my in-box, I almost deleted it, thinking that sending the application had only led to me being added to yet another mailing list.

But as I took in the subject line, my entire body began to shake, my finger still poised over Delete.

Congratulations, Ms. Olivia Larkin! Your application has been successful!

I read the email within a second, gobbling it down greedily with my eyes, then read it again and then once more, sure I’d missed some small detail that would bar me from the trip. But eventually I allowed it to sink in. It was all there. Clearly typed in black-and-white, size 12, Times New Roman. My application had been successful. I’d won a scholarship aboard a luxury world cruise—all expenses paid.

Mum immediately called every living member of family we had in the world, then held an open conference with our neighbors, ardently gabbling on about things she’d never once mentioned to me: my immense literary talent; how she had known, the moment I picked up a crayon at two years old, that I was destined for greatness and so on.

And since then, I’d spent every single minute daydreaming. Imagining myself as one of those stylish travel influencers that constantly filled my social feeds, my vintage suitcase beautifully packed, ready to vlog my every experience. Picturing myself on the bus down to Southampton, sitting next to some cute Brazilian student who I’d start a passionate (though ultimately doomed) love affair with halfway across the Atlantic.

It hadn’t quite worked out like that so far.

For a start, instead of my sitting with a hot Brazilian, the familiar bulk of Will was wedged beside me on the bus, furiously tapping away at WhatsApp as hip-hop pounded tinnily out of his AirPods. Every now and then he would nudge me to share some ghoulish fact about our trip.

“Hey, did you know most cruise ships have an actual morgue on board?”

I rolled my eyes.

“Why do I get the feeling this trip’s going to feel more like six years than six weeks?” I groaned.

Dad’s car had taken ages to start (dead battery again), so we’d had a rushed peck on the cheek. A Get on the bloody bus—quick! Before it goes, Liv! type of goodbye. During which Mum sniffed away her tears while basically ordering me to have fun. I mean, honestly, the absolute pressure of those words immediately led me to worry about how I’d need to fake it if I wasn’t bouncing off the walls with giddiness during our three phone calls a day.

Will’s dad’s sleek gray Mercedes drew up alongside moments later to drop him off. Neither Will nor his dad looked particularly happy, and Will leaped out several seconds before the car actually stopped without a backward glance. I knew things had been difficult for him lately. At least the trip would take his mind off all that for a while.

I’d spoken to Mr. Ashburnham—Hey, call me Justin—on the phone the week before, and he’d casually dropped in how I was the only one on the ship who had won a full scholarship. Reading between the lines, I interpreted this as meaning everyone else in the group was filthy rich. Not pretty damn rich (like Will, whose dad worked as a hedge-fund manager—a job I’d been disappointed to hear involved no actual hedges—and who had memorably invited the entire class to a go-kart-racing party when Will was eight), but properly minted, private school, three-skiing-holidays-and-the-South-of-France-twice-a-year rich. This was corroborated by the impossibly grand email addresses cc’d alongside mine: @StClarysCollege and @OurLadyoftheFields.

Not exactly a natural extrovert, I found it all a little intimidating: there’d be no hiding in my cabin. The info from SeaMester explained that our first week—the duration of our trip to New York, our initial destination—would be spent getting to know the rest of the group.

So I’d gotten up an entire hour earlier than I needed to that morning, perfecting the “effortless” outfit I’d planned for weeks, one I hoped wouldn’t immediately mark me as Scholarship Girl. I’d settled on my favorite distressed jeans paired with a silky camisole (sadly polyester mix—not actual silk) beneath a kimono (Mum’s—so technically vintage), and my well-worn Stan Smiths.

“Seriously, Liv . . . check this shit out!”

Will reached past me and pointed out the window. My stomach complained noisily as the bus began to slow and pull into the harbor. I hadn’t been able to manage any breakfast other than the enormous can of energy drink Will had fished out of his backpack, and that was in danger of resurfacing. Steeling myself, I took my first glance at the Eos.

It wasn’t an exaggeration to say it loomed above us. A daunting monolith of sleek white metal, almost too bright to look at in the late-September sun.

“God, I am so hyped for this trip,” Will continued, pushing his unruly dark hair away from his face. “Since Dad got with the banshee, the only place they ever want to go is Puerto Banús. It’s proper embarrassing.”

“The banshee” was Will’s dad’s new girlfriend. On the few occasions I’d met her, she’d actually seemed pretty sweet, but I don’t think the fact that she was only a couple years older than us exactly helped matters.

Whatever I’d been expecting, I still couldn’t process the enormity of the ship. Soon, all we would be able to see of it was a sheer white wall of metal.

Despite our having gotten the earliest bus available and leaving practically in the dead of night, we just made our boarding slot and were two of the last in the queue. Ahead of us was an endless wavy line of smart-looking older couples, the women in vertiginous heels, carrying expensive leather handbags; the men in a uniform of belted shorts and checkered shirts. Dad had prepared me for this. Apparently only the seriously well-off and retired had the luxury of time for a cruise.

“Hey—look,” said Will, giving me a conspiratorial nudge. “Do you reckon they’re part of our group? They’re the only people under fifty I’ve seen so far.”

I followed his gaze to the check-in desk ahead of us, where three literal goddesses, effortlessly casual in floaty chiffon and flat leather sandals, were tossing their golden heads and laughing the tinkling laugh of the insincere.

“Oh God, please, no,” I murmured. “Did I miss the memo?”

Will smirked. “What?”

“To bring glam. All I’ve brought is jeans and hoodies.”

Since it was a ship, I’d imagined us boarding via a steep and wobbly wooden gangplank, but instead we all trundled down a swanky carpeted tunnel, which emerged directly onto one of the decks. As we walked out onto the polished wooden flooring, I swung around to get my bearings and immediately wished I hadn’t. On the other side of the railing, the world dropped away sharply, and a rank breeze stinking of oil and seaweed drifted upward. Swallowing, I staggered away.

Will gave me a playful nudge. “Seriously, Liv. Remind me again why you’re scared of the sea?”

I brushed away his arm.

“Sure, where do you want me to start? The whole drowning thing? Jaws? Portuguese man-of-wars, the bends, the Mariana Trench, actual pirates—”

He flashed his familiar crooked grin.

“Fair enough, but we’re about to step onto a ship the size of a small country. No one’s asking you to swim across the Atlantic.”

It wasn’t only the sea, though. It was everything that came with it. The acrid, briny reek of it. The noxious viridian slime that clung to the rotting wood of the docks. The raptor-like screech of gulls. The way everything was eventually eaten up by salt water—turning rusty and corroded and brittle. My parents were as surprised as I was when I made the decision to go—but after I read all the info, it was clear that I would be comfortably ensconced within a massive floating hotel the entire time. I didn’t even need to go out on deck if I didn’t want to.

Suppressing a shudder, I followed Will through a set of shiny double doors into the ship’s main atrium and sucked in a breath.

The cavernous room we stood in reminded me of childhood visits to the Sealife Center: dim and slightly dank smelling but lit with a delicate aquatic light that rippled across the space like cerulean silk. The walls were enormous tanks filled with gracefully gliding exotic fish. Beneath my feet was a thick carpet of navy flecked with gold. There was a churchlike sense of reverence within, punctuated by the occasional flash of someone’s camera. Roped brass posts guided us through the gloom to where several staff members stood wearing starched blue uniforms and holding glittering trays of drinks to welcome us.

Will approached the nearest attendant: Orlaigh, according to her name badge. She flashed us a chilly smile.

“Greetings, you two. Welcome aboard the Eos. Have you traveled with us before?”

I thought it was fairly evident that the likes of us had not.

Will confidently reached out for the sparkling wine, but Orlaigh whisked it away like a magician’s trick, replacing it with a tray of much-less-glamorous orange juice in plastic cups.

“We’re seventeen,” he protested.

“Exactly.” Orlaigh smiled. “So you’ll be needing to take it easy.”

Despite the soft Irish lilt of her voice, she had the kind of face that made me reluctant to argue with her. Perfect features but hard, no-nonsense eyes, her lips accentuated with a slash of cold red. Blond hair scraped back into a chic chignon, not a single hair out of place.

“And what are your names, please?”

I cleared my throat. “Olivia Larkin and Will Rexham.”

A flash of recognition entered her eyes. “Ah, you’re part of the SeaMester group. Isn’t that just fabulous for you both? We hope you enjoy your trip.” She handed us each a key card and a folded piece of paper that, given the size of the place, I sincerely hoped was a map. “You’ll find your cabins on Deck Four. The rest of your group are already here, actually. They’re waiting for you over in the Neptune Lounge. Just follow the signs, all right?”

She gestured in the direction of one of the well-lit passages leading out of the room.

Ignoring the proffered orange juice, we made our way down to the lounge, tinny steel drum music trailing us out of the atrium.

The ship was undeniably impressive. Everywhere I turned, I was confronted by acres of politely pale wood, almost plastic-looking in its perfection. Everything that could be had been polished to within an inch of its life, from the vast swathes of glass to the brass fittings.

The Neptune Lounge was halfway down a corridor lined on one side with enormous full-length windows that looked out over a drab expanse of gray ocean. Above the entrance to the lounge was a cheesy plaster depiction of Neptune himself, dashing across the ocean with his chariot of sea horses, definitely more Disney than authentic Greek mythology.

Will grabbed my hand, squeezed it briefly, then dropped it before pushing open the double doors. I stared after him, my skin flushed with unwelcome heat.

Okay—that was weird.

Particularly from someone who had been studiously leaving me on read for the last couple of weeks.

He’s just being friendly, Liv, I chastised myself. The drive down had been so normal, almost like things used to be, and I was keen to keep it like that. I’d learned my lesson about reading too much into things the hard way.

Inside was a vast room busily studded with circular tables and blue velvet bath chairs. The mirrored ceiling above us amplified the autumn light that amplified the deep blue of the swelling ocean on the far side, where most people were congregated, and a glittering bar took up the entirety of one wall.

We stood stiffly in the doorway for a moment, drinking it all in.

“Better find our group, then,” I muttered, still a little wrong-footed, stiffly dragging my suitcase behind me. It was Dad’s and had a ropy wheel, which caused it to bang repeatedly into my calves.

Laminated signs were affixed to some of the tables, marking them reserved for different groups. At one of the tables sat two of the girls we’d seen checking in ahead of us. They had to be on their way to film a movie or to take part in a modeling shoot. One of them was glued to her phone, while the other tossed back a glossy mane as she perfected a selfie of herself sipping an expensive-looking cocktail—guess their attendant had given them less trouble about that than Orlaigh had given us. The sign affixed to their table simply read Sirens.

Turned out we’d wandered past the SeaMester table several times before realizing it was the one we were meant to be sitting at. I don’t know about Will, but I’d been on the lookout for a group of students like ourselves: clad in battered hoodies or jeans, various colors of Fjällräven backpacks discarded about the table. But everyone seated at this table was the picture of sophistication. Stacked beside the table was a neat pile of expensive-looking luggage. I recognized the familiar brown-gold Louis Vuitton print and a red-and-green Gucci luggage strap.

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