Elizabeth Lowry

Newly published Dark Water by Elizabeth Lowry is the author’s second novel.
Her first book, The Bellini Madonna, was published in 2008 to great acclaim and reissued in 2019.

New! Dark WaterThe Bellini Madonna

Longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2019

Dark Water

Aboard the USS Orbis as it embarks from Boston and surges south to round Cape Horn, Hiram Carver takes up his first position as ship’s doctor. Callow and anxious among the seasoned sailors, he struggles in this brutal floating world until he meets William Borden.

Borden. The Hero of the Providence. A legend among sailors, his presence hypnotizes Carver, even before he hears the man’s story. Years before, Borden saved several men from mutiny and led them in a dinghy across the Pacific to safety.

Dark Water Reviews

What people are saying


“Superb… Dark Water is that rare find – a literary novel with a plot that unfolds with pace”

The Times, Historical Fiction Book of the Month

“Hugely enjoyable”

“An ambitious and hugely enjoyable historical novel, full of literary echoes but with a voice all its own”

The New Statesman, Best Books of 2018

“Emotionally engaging”

“Immensely enjoyable… A psychologically complex and emotionally engaging story of misdirected love, and of a variety of hungers… It asks big questions”

The Guardian, Book of the Day


“A compelling combination of gothic mystery, psychological thriller and study of the shifting nature of truth”

The Sunday Times, Historical Fiction Critic’s Choice

Dark Water Extract

Boston, 1833

I date my professional interest in what I call the dark water, or submerged aspect of the human mind, to an incident that befell me as assistant surgeon of USS Orbis in 1833, shortly before I came to work at the asylum.

This was when I first got to know William Borden.