Thanks to Canongate and Netgalley for the Advance Review Copy.
“I think it takes a monster to survive when nobody else can”
This novel is about Monster who becomes Mother when she finds another Monster. Got that? Well buckle in for a wild ride.
The novel is largely set in a post apocalyptic Britain. War and Sickness have killed everyone on earth (as far as we know) and a woman called Monster is the last person left alive. She ekes out an existence at an old farmhouse through scavenging and growing vegetables. On one of her scavenging trips to the ‘City’ she comes across a young girl who she names ‘Monster’ and she then becomes ‘Mother’.
The Mother character was a really fascinating ‘heroine’ to me and the insights into her past and her relationship with her parents helped the reader to understand why she is the way she is. The character of the young girl, Monster was less compelling to me but both characters are well written and credible.
The writer has a way of writing that makes the isolation and horrors of the aftermath of the apocalypse easy to imagine and the book is all the more terrifying for it. Mundane things like a clock, cans of food or batteries become matters of life and death e.g. comparing the finding of a locked storage room in a raided shop to Tutankhamun’s tomb, and there is a real sense of what has been lost. The lyrical writing style really works in this novel and the author’s experience as a poet is obvious.
This novel raises questions throughout and the parallels to potential future realities was unflinching and brutal. It’s not an easy read by any means but it’s a novel about the bonds between women, between mothers and children, survival and hope.