Five words from the blurb: medicine, faeries, superstition, pain, darkness
I don’t normally mention debut novels that I fail to finish, but this one has played on my mind. Books that evoke a strong reaction are far better than boring ones, so please take my opinion as a positive and give it a try – I’d love to discuss it!
The first 75 pages of this book were fantastic. I was instantly drawn in to the story – it reminded me of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but Raw Head was more gripping. The writing was wonderfully atmospheric and felt realistic for the time period.
So what went wrong?
About 75 pages in, the central character raped a woman. I’ve read lots of books containing rape scenes. I’ve even read some written from the perspective of the rapist. What I can’t understand is why this scene offended me so much – it wasn’t even particularly graphic. I continued reading the book and it quickly became clear that the central character enjoyed inflicting pain on others, particularly women. It almost seemed to glorify violence. I normally enjoy books that give an insight into the mind of others, no matter how evil they are (I even liked The Kindly Ones) so what I’ve been trying to work out is what line this book crossed? Was it simply that I wasn’t expecting it? Do I object to rape scenes in historical fiction? Did it just treat the subject in too light a manner? I can’t work it out! I hope that someone (who isn’t easily offended) will read this book and give me some insight.
I abandoned the book after about 150 pages as I couldn’t inflict another 400 pages of this violence on myself. Perhaps everything is redeemed by the ending? If you’ve finished this book I’d love to know if a meaningful conclusion is reached.
Did not finish
Have you read this book?
What did you think of it?
I haven’t seen any blog reviews for this book yet, but the press appears to be very positive:
Those of strong stomach and vivid imagination will find glittering delights in here. Lloyd Shepherd in the Guardian
A startlingly, subversively original writer. Gerard Woodward
Wolf is a superb storyteller who sucks the reader into his fascinating imagination. The Times