Sunday, March 5, 2017

Book Review: Pseudotooth by Verity Holloway



Title: Pseudotooth
Author: Verity Holloway
Publication Date: March 6th 2017

Synopsis: "'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, 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 hold 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..."

My thoughts: I have put off writing this review for some time now, because I was still thinking about it regularly and not sure how I felt, even after finishing the book over a week ago. This is a confusing book, where the reader is thrown into confusing predicaments along with its main character, Aisling, as she tries to understand what is happening to her and whether she has any choices to make about her life.

There is an underlying current of threat and unease throughout this book, one that I found difficult to swallow at times, but that kept me coming back for more anyway. Dealing with my own chronic illnesses that baffle doctors meant that I felt a kind of familiarity with Aisling, and occasionally that cut to close to the bone - such as when she attends an appointment early in the book that she doesn't see the point of - another doctor that doesn't know what is going on with her. 

As the tale goes on, parts of Aisling's past are uncovered, along with the past of the ageing relatives she is sent to live with. We also begin to know more about Feodor, the man she can't stop writing about in her journals. I lean towards describing this book as a tale steeped in magical realism, but the kind that makes you really question what is real - which world is the real one? As the threads of the story begin to be knotted together, the reader often finds themselves with more questions than answers. The ending even left me with questions.

Honestly, I thought I would hate that, but I didn't. It left me extremely thoughtful about the worlds we live in and the ones we create in our mind, the worlds of the past and those of the present, and which one may be the most accurate representation of human life, if any. The writing was at times brutal, at others extremely beautiful, and I hope we get to see more from Verity Holloway in the future. The only reason I didn't give this a higher rating was because I sometimes felt completely lost about what was happening and lost the thread of the story, which, while maybe intentional, made it harder for me to connect with the book.



{I received an review copy of this book from Unsung Stories in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!}

You would like this book if: you enjoy magical realism of a darker tone.

Tea to drink while reading this book: if you can remember to drink your tea while being lost in this, kudos to you!

Rating:  8/10

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