The Nature of Monsters
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Historical, Horror, Adult
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 hastily arranged to shield the father of her unborn child from scandal. But why is the apothecary so eager to welcome her when he already has a maid, a half-wit named Mary? Why is Eliza never allowed to look her veiled master in the face or go into the study where he pursues his experiments? It is only on her visits to the Huguenot bookseller who supplies her master’s scientific tomes that she realizes the nature of his obsession. And she knows she has to act to save not just the child but Mary and herself.With exquisite prose, dark humor, and a historian’s eye for detail, Clare Clark has created another transporting novel.
I thought this book would never end, but finally I have defeated it. Now I have read The Nature of Monsters once before and I remembered it fondly as a tale of great horror and distaste. I had apparently forgotten how slow a read it was compared to what I am usually reading (Young Adult and Juvenile).
The world of this book is horrific, intriguing and historical. It's focus is on
in 1718 and the several things that happen during that time period, most
focused on the scientific pursuit of deformed babies. Superstition says that a
mother's imagination is the cause of a baby's deformity and it is this
"theory" that the main "scientist" of the book focuses
Eliza is a character of great naivety in the beginning, mistaking lust for love and being duped by her husband to be and appearing to be sold away by her mother afterwards. For all of that she finds herself learning and aged by her situation and all the mistakes she makes.
The world of 1718
drowns you out, the prose, the
environment, nothing kicks your mind from the time period. London
The thing about this book though, is I love the impression it leaves on me, but I hated reading most of it. I just don't have the patience for it apparently.
Eliza really ends up with the short end of the stick with her beauty. Everyone blames her for the attraction men have to her, and pretty much everyone wants under her skirt, and all she wants is to be respected and safe. The whole thing with the bookseller has always made me very unhappy.
The death of Eliza's baby is incredibly haunting. It never says outrightly that Mr. Black had killed it, but we know. It had been perfect, and then suddenly he is dissecting it. Mary's death is haunting in another way, it had me crying. I loved Mary, poor girl had a terrible life and I'm glad that Mr. Jewkes is at least making sure that her son will be well taken care of.
This is not a light, easy Young Adult read, however if you enjoy historical, gothic horrors and are intrigued over the nature of what makes a monster, I recommend to give this book a try. Perhaps read another book while reading this one if it feels to slow. I really do remember it quite fondly after I finish.