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A Taste for Monsters

Review

A Taste for Monsters

So, how gruesome was the Victorian era? If you were under any doubt, Kirby’s new chilling ghost story will answer that question in spades.

London, 1888 and the fearsome Jack the Ripper terrorises the streets of Whitechapel. At the nearby London Hospital, Evelyn Fallow, a young woman in truly desperate circumstances is appealing for work. The problem? Evelyn is the unfortunate victim of ‘Phossy Jaw’, a dreadful affliction caused by working in a matchstick factory that results in glowing jaw bones that soon rot and die, causing horrible disfigurement at the very least and, at the worst, death. Whilst Evelyn’s face is judged unable to bring comfort to the sick and needy, there is one patient who might not be so upset by it --- Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man.

"A TASTE FOR MONSTERS is a brilliant story, both macabre and beautiful in equal measure. A must read for historical fiction fans and anyone who loves a good scare."

Whilst Evelyn and Joseph’s relationship starts off rocky, as Evelyn finds her feet alongside the hospital’s most famous inhabitant, the two soon become fast friends though their friendship becomes strained when Joseph begins to be visited by horrific ghosts in the small hours of each night. Can Evelyn help the ghosts find peace and, in turn, discover the connection between these hauntings and the grisly murders happening just outside the hospital’s doors?

A Taste for Monsters is a gripping Victorian ghost story that oozes rich historical detail from every page. Kirby does not shy away from the horrendous particulars of the murders, making this a genuinely scary read at times. He cleverly allows the sensationalism to be discussed by nurses at the hospital, reflecting the almost celebrity status the Ripper attained during his murderous spree, but tempers this with Evelyn’s horror towards both the facts and the way that the public are reacting to them.

Kirby convincingly recreates Victorian London, covering a fair amount of ground during Evelyn’s quest to lay the ghosts to rest. At times, frightening, but always fascinating, Kirby’s writing is completely absorbing and extremely engaging. The characters speak in a very believable way, reflecting their social status and the dialect of the time. This lends the story an authenticity that, when paired with the huge amount of research Kirby must have undertaken, makes Evelyn’s tale very credible.

Evelyn and Joseph’s friendship is beautifully developed, the two characters helping each other to grow and gain confidence as the story progresses. Their relationship is truly touching and, as the story comes to an end, it is a shame to have to leave them. A TASTE FOR MONSTERS is a brilliant story, both macabre and beautiful in equal measure. A must read for historical fiction fans and anyone who loves a good scare.

Reviewed by Becca Watts on September 30, 2016

A Taste for Monsters
by Matthew J. Kirby