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The Nature of Monsters
The Nature of Monsters
Author: Clare Clark
1666: The Great Fire of London sweeps through the streets and a heavily pregnant woman flees the flames. A few months later she gives birth to a child disfigured by a red birthmark. — 1718: Sixteen-year-old Eliza Tally sees the gleaming dome of St. Paul's Cathedral rising above a rebuilt city. She arrives as an apothecary's maid, a position hasti...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780156034081
ISBN-10: 0156034085
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 400
Rating:
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 51

3.2 stars, based on 51 ratings
Publisher: Harvest Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
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Top Member Book Reviews

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
reviewed The Nature of Monsters on + 390 more book reviews
2 member(s) found this review helpful.
I really enjoyed this very dark novel about life and superstitions in the early 18th century. Clark did a marvelous job of describing the time period especially the squalor of old London. The monsters in the book could have been many of the characters or all of them including the protagonist Eliza's employer and master, the apothecary Grayson Black, his wife, or the apprentice Edgar. Or was Mary, the "idiot" servant who was also vile-looking and generally disgusting, considered a "monster". Or could it be the monsters that Grayson Black is trying to create in a woman's womb by imprinting the mother with horrific experiences. Then there are the supposedly honorable characters such as the bookseller that Eliza gets betrothed to to escape her misery. In the end, all of these and more could be considered monsters. This was a fascinating read and really placed the reader in another time period quite expertly - very Dickensian. This is the second Clare Clarke novel I have read - the first was "The Great Stink" which I also enjoyed. I'll be looking for more of her work.
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
reviewed The Nature of Monsters on + 153 more book reviews
2 member(s) found this review helpful.
The story is dark and disturbing, for sure. I loved this book, and could not put it down. I even got up at 4:45 this morning so I could finish it before going to work. Two thumbs up!
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
reviewed The Nature of Monsters on + 26 more book reviews
2 member(s) found this review helpful.
I really enjoyed this book and it's main character. It's at times disturbing, dark throughout, but has shafts of light that give hope. It shows and interesting side to the science and thoughts of the times.
It's one of the books that I will keep on my bookshelf for future re-reading.

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  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
reviewed The Nature of Monsters on + 1010 more book reviews
This is a very dark book. Showing the not so glamorous side of London and the state that many lived in. Excellent description of the sites, sounds and smells of the area in which they lived. The madness that comes over those who seek enlightenment through so called science and experiments with the help of opium. Very Dickens in style.
  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
reviewed The Nature of Monsters on + 2 more book reviews
This book is definitely not what I thought it would be. Unfortunately it has a really dull plot, the author feeds you crumbs of actually happenings while you struggle to get through the molasses of historical description.
  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
reviewed The Nature of Monsters on + 487 more book reviews
Set in the 1700’s. The book starts out with a woman fleeing from a devastating fire. Then it jumps ahead 50 or so years and we meet Eliza who is a young woman all worked up over a sexy young man. The opening scene was something akin to an erotica novel but you won’t hear me complain. Eliza’s mother is the local midwife but fears being accused of witchcraft and wants to have her daughter safely wed to someone with lots of cash and property before it happens. Thus she encourages her daughter towards the wealthy and randy young fellow and performs a hand fasting ceremony. Pregnancy immediately follows and once the dupe realizes he isn’t legally wed he hightails it out of there and she’s left penniless, ruined and nauseous because of the “worm” in her belly. Ah, the best laid plans.

Eliza, worm still in the belly, then finds herself shipped off to London by her greedy mother to work with a mysterious apothecary. Doc Black believes strongly in the power of imprinting. But it’s not the Stephanie Meyer type of “you were meant for me” creepy imprinting. This imprinting is even more twisted. Doc Black believes that fears and events experienced by the mother can alter the unborn child in bizarre ways. For instance, if she fears a kitty and one crosses her path the kid may be born with whiskers and a purr. Or somesuch. It sounds nutty but supposedly there is documented proof that a certain sector of physicians actually believed this to be true way back when. In the author’s notes she even includes some freaky sketches of naked humans with animal heads, the result supposedly of material impressions and monstrous birth. Strangely enough they fascinate me and my eyes keep drifting to those last few pages when I should be reading the book . . .

The premise of this book appealed to me and some of the plot twists were horrible but the book was too meandering and to be blunt, boring, for me to continue and I gave up about halfway through. The ideas were good but the writing style didn't work for me and unfortunately I was unable to find any sympathy for the main character who I found off putting and unlikable.


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