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The Palace of Curiosities – reviewed by Max Scratchmann

Much as I want to like all of these books, there are, I'm afraid, a lot of fairly dull bodice-rippers and penny-dreadfuls lurking beneath the stunning cover art on the slew of mock-Victorian novels currently on the market, so it was with great joy that I discovered Rosie Garland's noir tale of life in a nineteenth-century freak show – The Palace of Curiosities.

Enticed by the gothic delicacy of cover art and then seduced by the Angela Carter comparison from Jenny Murray on the flyleaf, I delved into this novel with a mixture of anticipation and cautious scepticism – treating the alluring enticements to enter as nothing more than the world-weary siren call of an over zealous marketing man. But, miraculously, I was not disappointed this time, and though the wonderful Ms Garland, in fact, bears little resemblance to Angela Carter – she's far too original a voice to be a copy of anybody – The Palace of Curiosities is a dark and evocative exploration of the underbelly of Victorian society and a magic-realist journey through the fair grounds and freak shows that so fascinate this reviewer as a visual artist.

The novel follows the converging path of two outsiders, Eve the Lion Girl and Abel the Flayed Man – also known as Mr Lazarus – and takes us on an atmospheric journey that veers in and out of the (believable) supernatural and even manages a happy ending without ever once delving into sentimentality or sugary cliché. The writing is rich and verging on the poetic, and the characters are well-rounded and believable – Eve's story being particularly strong with a heady erotic undercurrent running throughout.

I very seldom resort to overblown kill-to-obtain-this-book soundbites, but this novel is a definite must-read. Highly recommended.

Max Scratchmann

Book: THE PALACE OF CURIOSITIES

Author: Rosie Garland

Publisher: HarperCollins

Click to go to Steve Savage's review site

Published in News
Monday, 20 March 2017 11:01

The Night Brother

The Night Brother

From the author of The Palace of Curiosities and Vixen comes a dazzling and provocative new novel of adventure, mystery and belonging. The Night Brother shifts tantalisingly between day and night, exploring questions of identity, sexual equality and how well we know ourselves. Perfect for fans of Angela Carter, Sarah Waters, Erin Morgenstern.
Praise from Stella Duffy - "A tumble of poetry, desire and passion... intriguing and delicious."

Rich are the delights of late nineteenth-century Manchester for young siblings Edie and Gnome. They bicker, banter, shout and scream their way through the city’s streets, embracing its charms and dangers. But as the pair mature, it is Gnome who revels in the night-time, while Edie is confined to the day. She wakes exhausted each morning, unable to quell a sickening sense of unease, and confused at living a half-life.
Reaching the cusp of adulthood, Edie’s confusion turns to resentment and she is determined to distance herself from Gnome once and for all. But can she ever be free from someone who knows her better than she knows herself?
Exploring the furthest limits of sexual and gender fluidity, this is a story about the vital importance of being honest with yourself. Every part of yourself. After all, no-one likes to be kept in the dark.

Available in all formats - hardback, paperback, audio, ebook.

The first reviews have come in for ‘The Night Brother’ – and they’re good. Wow!

"Echoes of Angela Carter's more fantastical fiction reverberate through this exhuberant tale... Garland's narrative is enjoyably energetic." - Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times 18.6.2017

"A rich and ambitious tale set in late Victorian Manchester... Garland's prose is a delight: playful and exhuberant. There are shades of Angela Carter in the mad world she creates... Full marks for style.' - Toni Senior, The Times 3.6.2017

Thank you to Happy Meerkat and Little Bookness Lane for loving my words.

“Once again I find myself lost in the reverie of Rosie Garland’s exquisite writing. Extraordinarily enchanting, The Night Brother’s emotional bounty caresses each page… Embracing the intimacies and complexities of the heart and soul, The Night Brother doesn’t feel like a story, but a delectable gift. All that remains is for me to offer a thunderous round of applause for what is simply an expressive, breath-taking wonder.”
Little Bookness Lane – read the full text here
https://littlebooknesslane.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/book-review-the-night-brother-by-rosie-garland/

“The Night Brother is a wonderful historical fiction novel with an amazing and intriguing twist… From the moment I read the first page I was hooked… A real exciting and also thought-provoking page-turner that I can really recommend.”
Happy Meerkat – read the full text here
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1888724819

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