Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: Lightning Books

Launch date: 6 July 2017

ISBN-13: 978-1-78563-036-1

The Shifting Pools

Zoë Duncan


“A beautiful, moving story” – Emma Jane Kirby

Fleeing war and the death of her family, Eve has carefully constructed a new life for herself in London.

Yet she is troubled by vivid, disturbing dreams, symptoms of her traumatic past, which intrude increasingly on her daily life. As she is drawn further into her dream world, she finds herself caught up in a fresh battle for survival.

A dark, lyrical fantasy about healing and reconnecting with the full richness of the self.





“A beautiful, moving story that skilfully stitches together the fragmented pieces of a brutalised and shattered soul so that it just might fly again”

Emma Jane Kirby

“Beautiful and heartrending… Zoë Duncan finds a new language to express the inexpressible”

Eric Karl Anderson, the Lonesome Reader


“With alternating chapters set in London, Enanti and poignant excerpts relating to dreams, this novel has a lyrical quality that movingly deals with loss and memory."

Buzz magazine

“The writing has a clear-sightedness that reflects her recovery from, rather than an immersion in, childhood trauma… The book has a particular accord with present times: Eve is a refugee and her sense of dislocation is vividly conveyed. [But] the darkness she describes is more than the refugee experience. It reflects the fundamental isolation we all feel and, too often, deny. It is this that gives the book a deep emotional resonance for readers.”

Danuta Kean, Mslexia

“Zoë Duncan’s beautiful debut novel effortlessly moves between the internal and external reality of a deeply traumatised individual. Using an utterly unique style she conveys how we bury unspeakable fears and keep feelings of panic at bay. It’s as if she finds a new language to express the inexpressible. This heartrending story will transport you to an imaginative new landscape that expresses the true nature of our everyday reality.”

Eric Karl Anderson, the Lonesome Reader

“A seriously stunning debut that took me as a reader on a haunting and spiritual journey. This was a haunting, thoughtful and powerful story that I devoured in one sitting as I just couldn’t tear myself away from Eve and her journey. A truly memorable reading experience and one I won’t forget for a long while. Highly recommended.”

Nudge Book, 5/5

The Shifting Pools is a fantastic reading experience, full of care, love and, ultimately, hope. Reading it is something of an honour.”

The Worm Hole, 4.5/5


Read Zoë Duncan's interview with The Times, in which she explains the tragic events from her own childhood which inspired her novel.

Watch a video review by Lonesome Reader from 10'42"

Read an interview with Zoë at Project Neighbours.


Zoë Duncan

Having spent her childhood throughout the Middle East and Africa, Zoë Duncan has a PhD in Middle Eastern geopolitics and a background in teaching, policy advice, art and writing.

She lives between Cornwall and Buckinghamshire with her children and three cats. The Shifting Pools is her first novel.

Read more about Zoë and her work at

selected works

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