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Walpole, Poe, Shelley and Stoker would be springing out their graves in true Gothic fashion to read this new novel. It is Gothic Horror for the 21st century and superbly done, especially for a first novel. If Ms Ward wishes to continue with the genre I foresee she has a long, gory, mysterious and successful time ahead of her!
This is the type of novel that should be used for modern English Literature exams with complex and entwining themes separated by decades or centuries yet returning inexplicably to a fascinating set of timeless social caricatures. The only question one might ask is will it, in classic custom sit in one’s idling mind for days, weeks and possibly years with revelations and understanding just out of reach?
Obvious themes such as blood (Rawblood?), the use of animals to engender emotion, the exploration of mind, madness and ‘therapy’, the opposing traits of courage and cowardice, and the inequality of women, social class and life in general are so indicative of Victorian gothic horror that it is hard not to draw comparisons. Now that would be an interesting academic study…
Review by C Griffiths