Read Pseudotooth by Verity Holloway Online


The malaise continues. Today, I begin a rigorous programme of exercise to cleanse body and soul.’Aisling Selkirk is a young woman beset by unexplained blackouts, pseudo-seizures that have baffled both the doctors and her family. Sent to recuperate in the Suffolk countryside with ageing relatives, she seeks solace in the work of William Blake and writing her journal, fillinThe malaise continues. Today, I begin a rigorous programme of exercise to cleanse body and soul.’Aisling Selkirk is a young woman beset by unexplained blackouts, pseudo-seizures that have baffled both the doctors and her family. Sent to recuperate in the Suffolk countryside with ageing relatives, she seeks solace in the work of William Blake and writing her journal, filling its pages with her visions of Feodor, a fiery East Londoner haunted by his family’s history back in Russia.But her blackouts persist as she discovers a Tudor priest hole and papers from its disturbed former inhabitant Soon after she meets the enigmatic Chase, and is drawn to an unfamiliar town where the rule of Our Friend is absolute and those deemed unfit and undesirable disappear into The Quiet…...

Title : Pseudotooth
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781907389412
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Pseudotooth Reviews

  • Whispering Stories
    2019-04-03 21:21

    Pseudotooth is a tale of one teenager’s life living with pseudoseizures, blackouts and strange vivid dreams. It explores the reasons why these episodes occur, and how dreams and problems in the past can cause issues, mentally, in everyday life.The book opens with seventeen year old Aisling and her mum Beverley, sat in the doctors office whilst he talks about the numerous tests that Aisling has undergone to see if they can find a reason for these episodes. Unfortunately, none came back with any answers. The doctor makes a judgement call, in that the reason could be stress and orders Aisling to take some time out to relax, and maybe a change of scenery would help.Beverley decides that the best course of action would be to send her daughter off to stay with her elderly aunt Edythe at her home, ‘The Rectory’, where she can get the relaxation she needs. Edythe is a strict woman, but kind too. Also living there is Edythe’s brother. It is he who reveals secrets about the homes past. This though causes Aisling dreams to intensify as she starts incorporating these stories into her dreams, and now they involve her waking life too, when the boy she often dreams about makes an appearance in her daily life, and a young man that she met at the home starts appearing in her dreams.Pseudotooth I would categorise as a YA book, being that it mainly features young characters. Verity has a writing style that makes the words flow naturally and carries you along without realising how many pages, or how long you have been reading for.Aisling is a great character, though quite mixed up. I think most people would be put in her situation, suffering from mental trauma, that causes her to have frightening seizures. Her mum Beverley is one self-centred woman, and I really couldn’t take to her. She seemed more important with her life, and reputation, than the issues her daughter was facing.The plot is unusual, and that’s what hooked me to it, though I don’t feel that the cover of the book does it any favours, and may turn some people off from reading this wonderful story.Overall the story had plenty of depth to it, interesting characters that you can get involved with, and a plot that will have you racing along, eager to follow Aisling’s story. You’ll be surprised when you realise that this book was written by a debut novelist.Reviewed on

  • Aliya Whiteley
    2019-04-11 15:23

    When life is hard and inexplicable, filled with ghosts and gaps in meaning, imaginative worlds can make so much more sense. Pseudotooth falls, for me, into that classic kind of book where a young person escapes into an entirely different land, and their own problems become a trouble within the land that only they can solve. At least, that's how we translate it from the outside, where it's easier to objectify the journey. The writer needs to provide a story that can work as literal experience for the hero while we engage in puzzling over meaning, if we want to do so. In order to get this to work, I think you need to be a brilliant writer of place, and of atmosphere. The imaginary world needs to be imbued with as much emotional meaning as the real world, and yet both need to be distinct. Verity Holloway does that wonderfully here. I felt transported.

  • Shaz Goodwin
    2019-04-13 15:40 with the investigation into Aisling’s pseudo-seizures, the picture painted is heavy and cloying. Beverley, a mother who has never fulfilled her duty of care to keep her safe, drops Aisling at great aunt Edythe’s in Suffolk while she goes to live with an ex in a loft conversion in Hackney. Edythe is Victorian in manner and expectations leaving Aisling isolated after being shunned by the mainstream. Great uncle Robert gives some kind of normality to life although there’s something he’s not saying … Aisling has been told as therapy to journal and in a trance, she writes about Feodora. A boy with Russian heritage who experiences depravity on many levels.As soon as we step through to the the dystopian parallel world I knew I was going to love it! Myths come alive with settings and characters. Life with Tor is surreal. Even though there is darkness attached to Tor, I loved the opposites of life with Edythe and life within Tor’s home. A Saturnine heaviness with both of them (duty, responsibilities, expectations) with the illusion of opposites. It wasn’t so hard to imagine that a place like this exists. A despotic ruler. Life crumbling down all around. Fear.I thought the characterisations were excellent. The appearance of Aisling belies the strength that lies beneath. She surrenders herself totally to the experiences and situations she finds herself in. We could learn from her!I never worked out how the characters connected until it was there in front of me. Fabulous how it ties everything together. Very creative.Pseudotooth captivated me. Yes it is surreal. Yes it is mythical. Tie that in with childhood trauma and abandonment and a world that needs healing and you have a complexity of emotions.Don’t let the cover or the title put you off. Both are symbolic and of course have meaning but you probably wouldn’t choose this book to read from a Kindle/bookshelf. You would be missing out on so much if this is a genre for you!

  • Joanne Sheppard
    2019-04-11 16:41

    Verity Holloway's Pseudotooth is a dizzyingly imaginative novel in which a teenage girl, Aisling Selkirk, suffers from a mysterious mental illness and is sent to 'convalesce' in the country while her mother goes to London to rekindle her relationship with a former boyfriend. Aisling means vision or dream, and Alexander Selkirk was was the seafaring adventurer who inspired Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe, so it's only fitting that Aisling has a desperate yearning to travel and is prone to strange episodes in which she seems to be losing her grip on reality.At the beginning of Pseudotooth I wondered if it was a young adult novel, but I soon realised that it is in fact a much more adult take on the genre than I was expecting. The fantasy elements - hauntings, time-slip, portals between worlds, dystopia - are beautifully executed but there's an underlying darkness, even a grittiness, to this book. There are hints that Aisling's symptoms could be caused by a past trauma, and the story of Feodor, a young teenager from the East End who seems to inhabit Aisling's subconscious, is bleakly squalid and disturbing. What's Feodor's link with Aisling? Where does the strangely-dressed Chase, who turns cartwheels on the lawn after dark, come from? And who is behind the pre-war journals in Aisling's room that outline the author's theories on how to handle the the 'defective classes'?You will certainly want to ask questions of this book that won't be answered, and it's left to the reader to decide for themselves what's real and what isn't, and where imagination ends and madness begins. Some would call this book fantasy, some slipstream, some speculative fiction and some would say it was magical realism, but it really doesn't matter how you choose to categorise it: it's enough to know that Pseudotooth is a cleverly constructed, atmospheric and gripping read. It's packed with all sorts of ideas, images and allusions to art, history, literature and psychology that somehow come together with remarkable coherence, and its scope is ambitious, with multiple interlinked plot strands and a vividly-drawn cast of characters shaped in part by their respective pasts. Pseudotooth is one of the most original and immersive novels I've read in a long time.

  • Seregil of Rhiminee
    2019-03-30 20:21

    Originally published at Risingshadow.Verity Holloway's debut novel, Pseudotooth, is an excellent literary speculative fiction novel. It's one of the best novels of its kind, because it's a beautifully written and thought-provoking novel with plenty of style and substance.I'm glad I had an opportunity to read Pseudotooth, because it's the kind of speculative fiction that deeply fascinates me. I enjoyed reading this novel, because the author successfully blurs the lines between dream and reality, taking the story into exciting directions with her riveting approach to difficult themes.Pseudotooth is an interesting novel, because it can be classified as a kind of a blend of adult fiction and young adult fiction with a touch of slipstream fiction and magical realism. Although young adult readers may enjoy this novel, I personally recommend it to adult readers due to its challenging themes.When I began to read Pseudotooth, I was amazed at the quality of the prose and the depth of the story. It was a bit difficult for me to believe that this novel is the work of a debut novelist, because the story flowed effortlessly, the characterisation was excellent and the author dared to explore challenging themes. Normally, there are at least a few tiny flaws in debut novels, but there are no flaws in this novel, because everything feels polished.Here's a bit of information about the story:At the beginning, Aisling Selkirk and her mother, Beverley, are at the doctor's office discussing Aisling's scans, because she has had pseudo-seizures. The scans reveal nothing out of the ordinary and the doctor says that there's nothing physically wrong with her... Beverley drives Aisling to the Suffolk countryside so that she can recuperate there and spend time with her great-aunt Edyth at the old vicarage. Edyth's brother, Robert, is also at the vicarage. Aisling seeks solace in William Blake's poetry and writes her journal... Aisling channels violent dreams and visions about a young man called Feodor, whose detailed history can be found in her diary. Feodor is a Londoner who is haunted by his family's history... When Aisling discovers a Tudor priest hole, meets Chase and hears about what has happened at the vicarage, the lines between dreams and reality begin to blur...This is all I'll write about this finely-crafted story, because I don't want to reveal too many details about it. The less you know about the story, the more you'll enjoy it.The characterisation is exceptionally good, because the author writes engagingly about Aisling who has been raised by her mother, Beverley. Aisling doesn't have a father, because Eliot left Beverley in the care of his aunt, Edythe, and then disappeared from their lives. Both Aisling and her mother, Beverley, are well-created characters. Feodor and Chase are also interesting characters, and so is Edyth, because she's a strict woman who isn't intentionally cruel.I found the Verity Holloway's way of exploring acceptance, mental illness and recuperation genuinely intriguing. She is strikingly honest and realistic when she writes about them. I'm sure that Aisling's condition will cause an emotional response in the readers, because the author describes how Aisling feels about her condition and her life (Aisling desperately wants to get well, she has to take pills and she's often nauseous).One of the things that I like about this novel is that there's a wonderful balance between realistic elements and fantastical elements. It's almost uncanny how vividly the author writes about these elements and how easily she combines them, because everything feels compelling and the fascinatingly bleak, strange and dream-like atmosphere makes the story all the more immersive. She explores what is real and what is not in her own unique way.I loved the author's writing style and beautiful prose. I found the prose gorgeous, because the sentences are well-structured and the descriptions are evocative. The author conjures up powerful images with her sentences and evokes a sense of strangeness that will enthrall readers.I think that readers who have are familiar with the stories written by Nina Allan and Christopher Barzak will find this novel especially intriguing, because there's something in it that is reminiscent of their stories. I have a strong feeling that the complex and unusual story will charm many readers.I sincerely hope that Verity Holloway will continue to write more novels, because she has a beautiful literary voice and she doesn't hesitate to write about difficult themes. Based on this novel, I can say that she's an assured and confident author who writes fluent and nuanced prose. She's definitely an author to watch.Verity Holloway's Pseudotooth is a deeply compelling and beautifully written novel that readers of literary speculative fiction can't afford to miss, because Aisling's story beckons to be read and re-read. It's something different and evocative, so don't hesitate to read it.Highly recommended!

  • Paul
    2019-04-18 20:26

    When Aisling is initially introduced she appears to be quite delicate. Her mother, Beverley, is at her wits end. She has tried to be understanding but can’t connect with Aisling in any meaningful way. Aisling’s mother thinks the best thing for her daughter is to spend some time in the peace and quiet of the countryside allowing Beverley to settle down with her new beau. Aisling is left to her own devices, living in her great aunt’s crumbling estate. She grows determined to move on with her own life and an unexpected encounter might just provide the opportunity she has been looking for.Chase is a mysterious soul. Aisling is immediately taken with his easy manner, but is also perplexed by him and his friends. Leaving the dark imposing house of her great aunt behind, Aisling flees with Chase into the unknown countryside. Joining him and his surrogate family in their strange home feels like it was meant to be. This is the tranquil existence she has always dreamed of. She should be able to relax, but she still feels uneasy. There is still that nagging sense of doubt.When it comes to characters, there are layers upon layers in Pseudotooth. If Chase is mysterious, then Fedor is enigmatic to the nth degree. Aisling dreams of this strange man a various points throughout his life but is there more to him than just her insubstantial thoughts. How does this strange being, and his troublesome past, relate to Aisling’s current situation?The plot of this novel has an almost ephemeral quality as it ebbs and flows around Aisling. In some scenes there is a stillness that feels almost palpable and mesmerising, while other times there is a frenetic chaos. The most interesting thing is the additional layer to the narrative that isn’t immediately obvious. It’s there, hiding just beneath the surface of the main plot. On an entirely personal level this resonated deeply with me. Let me try to explain, I’m epileptic, I have been diagnosed for a while now. One of the things that fascinates, and horrifies me in equal measure, is whenever I’ve had a seizure I am entirely absent. Sure, I’m physically in the room but the core of me, my character, soul, personality, call it whatever you want, is gone. Verity Holloway’s novel explores this phenomena in a subtle but affecting way. There is almost a fantastical, dream-like quality to this narrative. Has Aisling been drawn into a different reality or is she suffering some sort of hallucinatory breakdown? Do the strange people that she meets really exist, or are they merely different facets of her own character brought on by her condition?Now I’ll admit I’ve taken a very personal interpretation of this particular novel, but I rather suspect that is exactly the response you should expect from the best fiction. Ultimately any conclusions that can be drawn from the questions Aisling tries to answer are left up to the reader to interpret themselves. It’s likely that some readers may find this level of ambiguity frustrating, but I thought it was perfect. I love novels that force me to think beyond the confines of the story.I’d urge you to give Pseudotooth a try. Not only is there a well-delivered, well-paced story, there is also some interesting ideas peppered throughout the text that are guaranteed to make you think. If you are looking for something a bit more cerebral than your normal fantasy fiction, then you need look no further.

  • Anne Goodwin
    2019-04-16 21:35

    Mostly because it’s so unlike my usual reading, I did struggle to follow Aisling’s journey the further she ventured from her home. But Verity Holloway’s writing is strong enough to carry along a realist like me and ensure I enjoyed the ride.Full review:Three novels about people whose brains work differently

  • Bethwyn (Butterfly Elephant Books)
    2019-04-15 16:38

    find my review here:

  • Jackie Law
    2019-03-31 17:47

    Pseudotooth, by Verity Holloway, is one of the most unusual books that I have read in a while. It explores the effects of trauma and the crossover between dreams and reality. It asks the reader to consider what they would define as real when ‘pseudo’ events have an impact on everyday life.The protagonist is seventeen year old Aisling who has been raised by her mother, Beverley, after her father left his pregnant, teenage girlfriend in the care of his maiden aunt, Edythe, and disappeared forever from their lives. They have had little to do with any family members since Aisling was a young child. Beverley, a secretary, is concerned about how she and her daughter are perceived and is struggling to deal with the health issues Aisling is currently facing.For the past couple of years Aisling has suffered blackouts and seizures. She has submitted to a plethora of tests and spent time in psychiatric care but still no cause can be found. When a doctor suggests her condition may be psychosomatic Beverley loses patience. She cannot cope with the way her daughter looks – emaciated with messy hair, grubby clothes and no apparent desire to improve her life or appearance – and after so long trying to find a solution wishes to move on with her own life. Beverley’s boyfriend has asked her to move in with him. When the doctor suggests that Aisling may benefit from a change of scenery Beverley arranges for her to go and stay with Edythe at the old rectory where the now elderly lady has lived all her life.Aisling wishes to please her mother and desperately wants to get well. She is frightened by the effects of her illness, exhausted from her inability to sleep restfully, drained by constant nausea that prevents her from holding down food. She packs little for her stay in rural Suffolk – the diary where she writes down her dreams as her doctor suggested, and a volume of poetry by William Blake whose dark words bring her comfort.Edythe treats her great niece with contempt. She values cleanliness and order as on a par with godliness, the personal problems she believes Aisling has allowed to fester as something that can be sorted with strict rules and determination. Edythe’s brother, Robert, is also being cared for at the rectory. He is kind to Aisling but the secrets he shares with her about the old building’s past start merging with her dreams.Aisling’s dreams have for some time featured a young man named Feodor. Her diary recounts in detail his often violent history. When a shadowy version of him appears to her whilst awake, around the time she discovers a priest hole in the rectory cellar, her world’s collide. Another young man, Chase, who she met briefly in the rectory garden, emerges as a dream time friend. She becomes a part of his world, a post apocalyptic existence where those deemed unfit and undesirable are made to disappear.The trauma that triggered Aisling’s illness is touched upon but she has dissociated events, tried and failed to wash the stain of them away. Although she is aware that the world she is currently inhabiting is a dream she is unsure how to return to waking life in the rectory, or even if this is something she wishes to achieve given the happiness she has discovered here. In confronting the dangers faced by Feodor and Chase she learns more of terrible events that took place in the rectory, which Edythe cannot allow to be talked of for fear they besmirch her memories of her revered father. It becomes clear that Aisling’s demons have also been suppressed.Although vividly portrayed and well written it took me some time to engage with the plot. Many of the early sections of the book are bleak, Aisling’s situation painful to contemplate. By halfway through the pace had picked up and I raced through the final third eager to know what came next. The adventure is fantastical, but then dreams are subject to a different concept of reality, whether dreamt awake or asleep.This is an unusual fantasy adventure grounded in the dark realities of mental illness and escapist imagination. It is a sometimes challenging but ultimately worthwhile read.My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Unsung Stories.

  • S.J. Budd
    2019-04-06 15:44

    In the tale of Pseudotooth we find Aisling Selkirk,a young girl stuck in that strange period of our lives where we all endure the transition from adolescence to adulthood. It's something we've all been through, being deeply unsure of what it is we're supposed to do with our lives and just what is laying in wait around the corner. But Aisling is what you would call - extremely farsighted - and can see beyond the sphere that everyone sees. As a result she suffers mental trauma which presents itself in the physical manifestations of strange blackouts and seizures which no doctor can explain.Beverly, her mother soon tires of her daughter's condition being deeply embarrassed that her daughter is a social pariah and hampering her own efforts with fitting in. After a brief stint in a psychiatric ward which has done nothing to sort out her condition, Aisling is sent to deep rural Suffolk to stay in a grand old house with her great aunt Edythe. Aisling's mother mother hopes that a bit of peace and quiet will soon have Aisling back to normal. It sounds so peaceful and idyllic but it doesn't take long for her formidable Aunt to find her secret journal with her clandestine visions of Feodor...Events spiral quickly in the house, first there are unwanted visitors and then Aisling stumbles across an ancient Tudor priest hole down in the cellar which sends her world upside down. She meets a dashing young man named Chase who takes her away from everything she knows and hates.At first the story feels very cramped and claustrophobic giving you an insight into Aisling's unique perspective. As I read the first part I felt it was taking too long to get going, but with hindsight I see that it was necessary so that we could feel and see what Aisling feels. It is a great adventure story and very unique to anything I have ever read. I hate it when you can easily predict what's going to happen next in a story but there is none of that in Pseudotooth.This is a tale about outcasts and misfits, each character is an outcast either through choice or destiny. There's not one character in here you could call normal which makes for a captivating tale. Even Beverly the mother goes through strange rituals such as relentless dieting in order to fit in and Aunt Edythe is a woman trapped i within her own strict rules. Pseudotooth reminds me of the saying, "We're mad in our own little ways," and examines the fight and struggles people will put themselves through to feel accepted within society.I have to admit this is a very strange book, but I really enjoyed it. I would describe this as being speculative fiction that errs on the side of literary fiction. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I usually don't go in for high brow literary fiction. For me it's all about delving into a great story that grips you instantly taking you off on a great adventure, but this book did just that as well as exploring many themes such as loneliness, acceptance, revenge and finding peace. There is a very strong dreamlike style of writing which really adds depth to the tale. I really liked this book and would definitely recommend it to others. This is a brilliant debut and I'd love to see more books from Verity Holloway.

  • Kagama-the Literaturevixen
    2019-04-09 21:47

    Review to come

  • Dan Coxon
    2019-04-02 17:21

    Fantastic novel, with shades of Alasdair Gray's Lanark and Iain Banks's The Bridge. Thoroughly enjoyed this from start to finish - a talent to look out for.

  • Andrew Wallace
    2019-04-24 22:48

    As the title suggests, reality is a tricky matter in Verity Holloway’s darkly compelling debut novel. When is a tooth not a tooth? When does it become something else? What if it was something else all along? Most disturbing of all is the question of whether it occupies conflicting realities simultaneously.We don’t normally associate teeth with this kind of abstraction. They are visceral things, hangovers from our animal past, particularly the carnivorous bits. In this story, though, one of them forms a kind of anchor for the protagonist, Aisling Selkrik, as she negotiates contradictory realms that blend into a weird narrative that is all the more unsettling for its grittiness.Aisling is sent to the country to recuperate from an unknown illness characterised by ‘pseudo-seizures’, the catch-all title for an inexplicable, possibly psychological malaise. Here again we sense the osmotic relationship between reality and fantasy: Aisling is clearly suffering with something, it’s just that medical science has no explanation for what it is. The seizures are depicted as being both real and very unpleasant; indeed, one of the novel’s many strengths is how it portrays the sheer exhausting toll illness takes on the people living with it and those who love them. There is another unpleasant level to the opening situation: Aisling’s mother Beverley wants rid of her inconvenient daughter to spend time with an ex-boyfriend; worse still, one who sexually abused Aisling when Beverley was with him last time.Aisling stays with Edythe, an aunt of her mother’s. I really wanted Edythe to soften at one point and prove that perhaps her Spartan, antiseptic regime might be motivated by something other than disgust, but no. At one point, Aisling travels in time, encounters Edythe as a child and finds that Edythe is just as vile then. Under constant stress within and without, the sensitive, clever and wholly sympathetic Aisling has only her precious book of Blake poems to provide succour. Blake is an interesting choice; not just for his life, which seems to have been lived on more than one plane of existence, but for the work itself with its odd, hauntingly disjointed half-rhymes and visions of God or the angels depicted with crisply etched, anatomically accurate lines. ‘Pseudotooth’ feels like it has similar ambitions. On one level, the book is a portal fantasy in which the heroine travels to another world. However, there is a constant question underlying the story of whether she has truly gone ‘elsewhere’ or whether she has succumbed to her illness and is lying comatose in Edythe’s chilly house. Also, the other world is no pastoral idyll informed by medieval Northern European folklore with richly coloured heraldry and a panoply of favoured supernatural beings. This other world is an Orwellian nightmare that is only a slight remove from our own realm, although given recent political events it’s a remove that gets less by the day. Dead towns with the feel of post-Blitz London spiral towards a centre ruled by ‘Our Friend’, the mysterious overlord who with the best intentions has reduced the land to a state of cold, muddy terror. The true identity of Our Friend and his link to Aisling and the Pseudotooth is one of the great twists of the novel as it braids all of the influences of Aisling’s life into a single narrative. One such strand concerns Feodor, whose story comes to Aisling as she writes her journal. Feodor is a young pyromaniac, possibly a psychopath, although given his awful upbringing and the way he is treated by his peers it is hard to say for certain. Feodor reaches out of the world of Our Friend to Aisling; they even touch at one early point. Feodor’s story then begins to enter the main narrative as he becomes a separate narrator in the novel proper.The loss of mothers is a link between Aisling and Feodor; Aisling’s has abandoned her to recommence a romance with an abuser; Feodor’s mother is dead and to get away from the toxic relationship the young man has with his father in a blighted inner city flat he visits the financially generous paedophiles next door, one of whom may or may not be Aisling’s long lost father. Meanwhile, Feodor’s father may have let a woman die back in their native Russia, a woman who is probably the mother of Our Friend.Whether these threads are a true reflection of events or the workings of a deteriorating mind desperate to find patterns in the inexplicable does not matter; what’s more important is how much we care about what happens. For example, when Aisling transitions fully into the other world via the priest hole in Edythe’s house that also stores the ultra-repressed ramblings of a step-brother whose philosophy sounds a lot like Our Friend’s, she starts to get better. Given the horrible experience of her life so far, this improvement is as much a relief for the reader as it is for Aisling, because the author doesn’t skimp on how debilitated her protagonist is.Aisling finds herself on the run from Our Friend’s minions accompanied by the comely Chase, a young blond man whose worldly cunning seems at odds with his innocence. We want Aisling and Chase to be together, especially when they house with enigmatic matriarch Tor and plaintively lonely boy genius Georgie. But when Aisling and Chase stumble across the adult Feodor in a wrecked chapel in the woods, will he be a help to them or a terrible hindrance?For all the abstraction suggested in this summary, the novel is rooted in a sense of lived experience. From the overarching, elemental images of fire and water to the size and weight of the tooth as it accrues mass and grisly residue, there is a constant tension between a very English rawness and the esoteric vulnerability of the protagonist. Unique, clever and with a kind of patient compulsion, the novel has a distinctive voice that finds beauty in despair.