Many thanks to everyone who came to the London launch event for The Monster’s Wife last Thursday at the marvellous Atlantis Bookshop in London! It was a lovely evening and I had so much fun seeing old friends and meeting new people too. In the end I even enjoyed the reading, having been a little bit nervous beforehand! Bali and Geraldine, the mother and daughter team who own Atlantis gave everyone such a warm welcome (and kept their wine glasses topped up unstintingly). I couldn’t have hoped for a better event for the book.
I’ve read some lovely reviews of The Monster’s Wife so far. It’s really nice to know that reviewers have enjoyed the book. Much of what they’ve said has been really insightful and thought-provoking too. Here are some extracts and links to US and UK reviews on the web:
“Oona makes a magnificent protagonist for modern times; determined, feisty and dogmatic. She exemplifies the troubled teenager struggling to fit into a life where she feels she does not belong and refuses to give up her beliefs. No matter what life and the harsh Orkney weather coupled with her failing health throw at Oona, her stubbornness and sense of integrity force her to carry on seeking to find the truth despite the reactions and treatment of her fellow islanders.”
Mysterious Bibliophile Review by Irene McKenna: “I stayed up most of the night, turning pages, so I could finish the book.”
“Horsley’s novel is an eloquent tribute to its original source, and at the same time, she has created something unique and intriguing. In keeping with Frankenstein‘s romantic roots, The Monster’s Wife is somewhat poetic in style, with language rich in imagery and metaphor, and carefully observes the natural world. I loved the vibrant descriptions of the coast of a small Scottish island…This is an impressive debut novel by this author. I expect it will be popular with readers of classics, fans of mystery and suspense novels, and lovers of general fiction. The story and characters will definitely stick with me for some time to come.”
“If I were to sum up Horsley’s style in a few words, it would be poetic, visceral, and gut-wrenching… The momentum of this story never relents, unlike that of Frankenstein that has its lulls. I will not ruin The Monster’s Wife by further discussing the plot. I will tell you this: you will not be able to put the book down. And, oh, the ending! What a fitting, unexpected ending to such an engrossing story.”
“It is a joy to report that The Monster’s Wife should cause no such trepidation. Horsley captures the dark isolation of small community and island life with a creepy charm. Without resorting to gothic tropes she engulfs you in a claustrophobic world that may fill you with tension but will certainly keep you reading. The Monster’s Wife is an absolute must read for any gothic fans and especially for lovers of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”
“Mary Shelley gave us Frankenstein. Kate Horsley, with brilliant descriptive prose, presents his bride. The Monster’s Wife is a wonderfully scripted tale about love between things that go bump in the night. Kate Horsley’s brilliant historical novel is more than an adjunct to the Shelley classic; it is a powerful statement about strong women and their ability to hold our interest on the page as well as in life.”
Plastic Rosaries Review by Beth: “an absolute must for fans of Frankenstein“
“Oona’s character is the best element of this novel by far, she grows with it but not to a maturity which would be unnatural for her adolescence. The second half of the novel races much faster than the first but it works perfectly as the plot thickens and Horsley has made an already classic gothic tale even more memorable. Oona’s character is far more memorable than some of those in Shelley’s original tale which is why I think it will remain with me for a long time…”
Oona is a wild, stifled young woman, doomed by the same illness that killed her mother, she lives her life in the shadow of her impending death, dreams of escape and the world beyond. May is her closest friend, the rock she clings too, but May is slipping away, and they find themselves drawn to the mysterious Dr. Frankenstein, becoming his accomplices. Their relationship takes several dark turns, as Oona fumbles her way towards understanding Frankenstein and his purpose for them. The Monster’s Wife is a lyrical and touching debut. Horsley has created a gothic world of her own out of Shelley’s novel and allows the reader’s knowledge to haunt the story, as she slowly builds towards her tragic yet hopeful climax. Ambitious, moody, and deeply enjoyable.
“I love retellings of classic stories (as long as they can live up to the quality of the original.) The Monster’s Wife is an epilogue to Frankenstein. Fortunately, Horsley more than lives up to the original. In fact, I liked this book a lot more than Frankenstein because there’s so much more action and suspense and the philosophizing doesn’t grind the narrative to a screeching halt.”
“This is a true literary gothic novel, and Horsley is respectful of Mary Shelley’s vision and original text. Her skill at developing Oona and her friend, May, as characters makes this into a tragedy of technology as destroyer of culture—which is, indeed, far closer to Shelley’s original than most adaptations and re-creations ever get.
The British-based Barbican Press is a small literary publisher; if the rest of their list matches the caliber of this fine novel, they’ll be a house to keep an eye on for American readers of literary fiction.”
What I’ve Read Review by Eamonn Griffin: “this is a fine debut and you should read it.”
“The Monster’s Wife is a revisiting of Mary Shelley’s tale… and is huge amounts of fun throughout, as well as dealing sensitively with a range of themes (isolation, mortality, covert relationships, nature). On top of that there’s more than a nod to the Gothic. The writing’s rich throughout, offering something for those whose tastes run to the literary as well as to the genre-friendly, be that historical fiction, SFF, queer writing (and all the more for those who like a bit of each at the same time, matron). You might guess where things may be headed story-wise from the title. You might not. I’m not going to tell you. It would spoil the surprise.”
Thursday September 18th, 6:30 -8:30 at the Atlantis Bookshop in London.
The Portico Library houses a mainly 19th century collection which “provides a tangible insight into the Georgian and Victorian culture of Boomtown Manchester”. It’s a wonderful library and gallery with a fantastic atmosphere. The launch will be held in the reading room and there will be wine and cheese followed by a visit to the pub.
To celebrate National Heritage Weekend, John Brewer and I will be taking wet plate portraits for this two-day event on Saturday September 13th and Sunday September 14th organised by Michele Selway in Todmorden Unitarian Church. The church is a fantastic venue, “full of quirky features and secret places, managing to be both grand and imposing, and warm and welcoming at the same time.”
National Heritage Weekend Wet Plate Event
13th and 14th September 2014
Todmorden Unitarian Church,
Honey Hole Road OL14 6LE
There will be lots of lovely stuff to enjoy at this event, including the local art that decorates the church, home-made cakes, grounds to picnic in and a warm and welcoming atmosphere. So please drop by for tea, cake, art and of course… making metal and glass plates with large format Victorian cameras! Props available. Fancy dress optional.
I’m honoured and touched to have received some fantastic advance praise for The Monster’s Wife from K J Wignall, an author whose work I’ve long admired:
This is a superb debut, an atmospheric and gripping mystery that picks up where the original Frankenstein left off. But to call it a sequel would do it no justice, because this book is fresh and original, and bursting with the most beautiful and lyrical prose. A stunning novel.
K J Wignall is the author of the Mercian Trilogy, “the most compelling vampire books for young adults since the Twilight Saga.” As Kevin Wignall, he’s published four crime novels and a number of acclaimed short stories and has been nominated for an Edgar in the US and for the CWA Short Story Dagger in the UK. All his work has attracted film interest and two of his novels – including For the Dogs – are currently under option. I love For the Dogs and will be very excited to see the film version when it comes out. I’m thrilled that one of my favourite authors said such kind things about The Monster’s Wife.
As part of Chorlton Arts Festival, John Brewer and I will be taking wet plate portraits for this two-day event on Saturday May 24th and Sunday May 25th organised by Michele Selway in a pop-up shop on Chorlton High Road. Chorlton Arts Festival is one of the UK’s leading multi-arts festivals. Now in its 14th year, the festival showcases local and national talent in music, comedy, visual arts, performance and more, working with over 30 venues in Chorlton.
Wet Plate Event
Saturday & Sunday, 24th &25th May 2014
10:00 am – 5:00 pm
486 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, M21 9AS
There will be lots of fantastic stuff to enjoy at the festival, including music, art, performance and this fun event at the old barbecue meat shop. So please drop by for tea, cake, vintage clothes, art prints and of course… making metal and glass plates with large format Victorian cameras! Props available. Fancy dress optional.
I’ve just received some amazing advance praise for The Monster’s Wife from one of my favourite authors, Sara Maitland:
That Mary Shelley has a lot to answer for!
This is an extraordinary novel, an honourable response (neither venerating nor sneering) to its progenitor, while being startlingly original. Kate Horsley has grounded and voiced her Frankenstein “sequel” in the Orkneys which bring their own mythic load with them and she takes the Gothic to new places, where the darkness of Frankenstein meets the darkness of isolated communities of love and fear and survival. It is brilliantly weird, dark and “horrid” – and it is a tender account of women’s friendships and dreams of freedom. It is profoundly touching and weirdly macabre at the same time. I’ve never read anything quite like it and I think it is wonderful.
Sara is the author of numerous works of fiction, including the Somerset Maugham Award-winning Daughters of Jerusalem, and several non-fiction books about religion. Reading her beautifully meditative A Book of Silence was one of the things that drew me towards Orkney to research and write the novel in the first place and her short stories collected in Moss Witch, exploring scientific concepts through the lens of myth, metaphor and fairytale, were a source of great inspiration to me in my own mythic retelling. I never expected such a moving and thrilling response to my own work from a writer I regard so highly and I was near to tears reading her words.
I had a great day last Thursday making ambrotypes with artist Vineta Gailite. Vineta’s hand-made dolls, sculptures and recent shadow puppet theatre work, Imaginary Islands, are beautiful, eery and full of atmosphere. I love the way each of her pieces tells a story or draws on one.
I’ve commissioned Vineta to make a special doll for my partner’s daughter Violet and what she’s made is magical: it’s both a likeness of Violet and a puppet with its own personality. In return, I offered to show Vineta how to make ambrotypes (wet collodion photographs on pieces of glass) and to help her take some portraits of her dolls.
We worked in my partner John Brewer’s studio in Ancoats. I demonstrated the process to Vineta, who set up a series of still lives. We had huge fun making images of them. Vineta got the hang of wet plate straight away and made some lovely glass images and I took a portrait of her sitting with her creations.
The portrait reminded me of the Maurice Sendak classic Where the Wild Things Are. After I’d sprayed the back black to make a positive image, I hand-tinted the glass using chalk pastels to make it a bit more of a special object in return for the fabulous creation Vineta is giving to Violet.
Wet Plate Collodion Fundraiser
Saturday, 12th April 2014 at 10am – 5pm
486 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, M21 9AS
Please drop by for tea, cake and photography. Friends and family welcome. It will be a fun day making metal and glass plates with large format Victorian cameras and props… fancy dress optional!
At the moment I’m working on a new novel, The American Girl, the first in a planned trilogy of psychological thrillers with a female lead. So far it’s been a sybaritic experience to immerse myself in the sun-drenched world of a small French town replete with a cast of eccentric local characters, all with their own dark secrets. The novel is part crime fiction, part autobiography drawn from my teenage adventures in the South of France (I came. I saw. I didn’t kill anyone, I swear…)
One feverish summer. One cold corpse.
Quincy Perkins is sixteen when her father sends her to a small French town to get rid of her for the summer. She expects to be bored in St. Roch, where her too-cool exchange Noémie does nothing but lounge at the local pool, sunbathing and flirting with boys. But when Noémie’s older brother Raphael arrives, everything changes. A small-town hero with a tragic past, he tells Quincy about his life in Paris, his dreams and regrets. Suddenly they’re in love…
And then Raphael turns up dead. Quincy was at a drunken party with him before he disappeared. To make matters worse, she has no clear memory of what went on that night. The town turns against her and the American girl becomes everyone’s favourite suspect.
Now Quincy must find out if she has blood on her hands, a journey that will take her to the darkest place of all.