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.
A Dickensian tale of the clumsy gropings of the early pyschologist/anatomists in the Georgian age that gives a wonderful sense of the era with pungent description and stinging social analysis. A study of class discrimination and the true nature of "monsters." If you are a fan of Caleb Carr, you should love this book!
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.
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!
This book just the way it was made was interesting the pages and the book slip are made in such a way as it appears to be very old even though it was brand new when I got it. It's about this lady who is pretty much a girl that is hired out into a household which isn't unusual in those days. All the money she ears goes to her family to support them her father was the one to loan her out. In this book you will see how doctoring was done in those times and how experiments were dolled out in search of answers to illness. You will be shocked by them. To not give to much of the story away I cannot indulge further but it was a good and fast read with no plodding along. I found it very interesting in parts and grotesque in others.
I liked this book much more than I expected to like it. Excellent character development, well researched historical detail, and amazing detail bring this novel to life. I may well have been standing on a London street in the year 1719. The question is... is the real monster the marked child of a woman who was frightened during pregnancy, the demon that haunts your dreams, or the one that exists in the mind of a mad man? I would highly recommend this book. Snatch it up before I change my mind and add it to my keeper shelves.
While I enjoyed the attention to detail and robust characters in this novel, the theme that humans are essentially horrible creatures who do horrible things to each other for selfish reasons gets beaten into the reader on every. single. page. And it gets really old, really fast. Entertaining and worth reading once.
Set in the 1700s. 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 wont hear me complain. Elizas 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 isnt legally wed he hightails it out of there and shes 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 its 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 authors 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.
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.
Others have described this book as "dark" and that it is. You will find yourself immersed in the early-18th-century setting of Clark's novel. The author is quite gifted in her ability to draw you in until you actually can hear the yelling, the padding hooves, the creaky wagons and smell the rank odors.
A great read for those who like mysteries and historical novels.
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.
MACRBE-BUT INTERESTING TOPIC-NOT FOR THE LIGHT HEARTED.