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The Nature of Monsters
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The Nature of Monsters

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,339 ratings  ·  234 reviews
1666: The Great Fire of London sweeps through the streets and a heavily pregnant woman flees the flames. A few months later she gives birth to a child disfigured by a red birthmark.1718: Sixteen-year-old Eliza Tally sees the gleaming dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral rising above a rebuilt city. She arrives as an apothecary’s maid, a position hastily arranged to shield the fath ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 7th 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2007)
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Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈

C is for Clark

Read a book set in a different country.
3.5 stars

This book really really was a doozy. When I first began reading, I thought for sure it would be a 2 star, or possibly a low 3. I actually contemplated giving this one a 4, but the slow beginning made me round down. This is a fascinating, but at times very dry, piece of historical fiction that delves into the dark space that exists between medicine and science and mythology and superstition that existed in Europe in the 17th and 18th c
Jun 19, 2008 Krysten rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Absolutely no one.
The exact words that came out of my mouth after reading this were “Well, that was a waste” as I put the book down, dismayed at what it was I just read. Believe me, the description on the back cover was a much better read then the actual book itself. It seemed at first that this could be an interesting concept, something intriguing. A young girl finds herself pregnant and later forced under the subjugation of a mad scientist during 18th century England. What’s not to like, right? Well, from the m ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I am definitely guilty of wanting to read a book simply because I love the cover, though I do take into consideration the plot as well. But here we have a dark, gothic novel set in the early 1700s, more twisted and mad than Mr Rochester's crazy wife, complete with resourceful heroine and beastly experiments done in the name of science and medicine, set against the stinking refuse, pollution, grime and decay of London, as well as the political and religious freedoms, traditional superstitions and ...more
In 1718 England, sixteen-year-old Eliza is recently married, but when she conceives her husband renounces her. She is sent to London to work for an apothecary, Mr. Black, that she believes will rid her of her burden--but Black has other plans. He is writing a treatise on the effect of female imagination on unborn children, and he intends pregnant Eliza to be his first case study. Taking place deep within the dark and dirty underbelly of 18th Century London, The Nature of Monsters is almost so gr ...more
Nov 28, 2007 Jennifer rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like body functions
This is what happens when you have a babysitter, and can browse your local book store without your wee one tugging at your skirts begging for the latest Sandra Boyton book.

Do not be fooled by the well written dust jacket description of this book, for it is a far better read than the book itself. It seemed so intriguing: a book set in early 18th century London. A girl finds herself pregnant, and at the mercy of a mad scientist. You would think, what a good read.


This is why you should never
Nov 28, 2008 Terence rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Terence by: Shannon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bark's Book Nonsense
Book ring book for . I had forgotten all about this one. Must read and send on before Apr 4.

Set in the 1700’s. The book starts out with a woman fleeing from a devastating fire. Then it jumps ahead 50 or so years and we meet Eliza who is a young woman all worked up over a sexy young man. The opening scene was something akin to an erotica novel but you won’t hear me complain. Eliza’s mother is the local midwife but fears being accused of witchcraft and wants to have her daughter
Atmospheric and darkly suspenseful, Clare Clark’s The Nature of Monsters is a tale in the vein of gothic horror that is as unsettlingly cruel and captivatingly vivid. Essentially a straightforward, plot-driven historical novel wrapped in the macabre nuances of early English medical practices, Clark illustrates the monstrous acts of true evil and those who dwell in it. Her characters are strongly represented and despite her almost unbearable subject matter, where the lines between quackery and sc ...more
Flora Bateman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Martina Ovens

I read the comments of other Goodreads followers only after I had got about halfway through the book, some I agree with, others, I can see their point of view as I don't enjoy everything that I read either! This book fell into the very enjoyable category which surprised me as it is totally out if my normal reading genre.
London during the rebuilding after the great fire must have been a dreadful place to live if one was of lower class. In this story, servants are treated as belongings and women
The story opened with a pregnant woman escaping the great fire of London. The piece was well-written and interesting both in story and characterization. But then the book switches to fifty years later, where we are immersed in the explicit lustings of a sixteen year old farm girl for a gentleman who her mother is trying to ‘capture’ via pregnancy (it works). The problem is that it was too explicit for me and once past all that, not all that interesting.

So I started skimming. And I kept skimming.
When I started this book, I almost put it down on page one! It started out with a very graphic description; not salacious, but coarse and rough. I just couldn't imagine reading an entire book with this type of language, but I pressed on, skimming some of the coarser descriptions. I'm glad I did.

The Nature of Monsters is told by Eliza Tally, a coarse (hence the language), headstrong young woman living in England in the early 1700's. The question you consider throughout the book is what really ma
This novel presents the 18th century in it's full reality. London is a rough, dirty, dangerous town. The divide between rich and poor is well defined and unbreachable. Poverty is prevalent, vulgarity in all it's forms the norm. Clare Clarke doesn't hide behind graceful descriptions, the author gives us a real feel and chills in her writing, London once was a terrifying city to dwell in. It is surprising people survived to adult age, murders, disease and filth where everywhere.
This novel addresse
I think a lot of the current reviews are unnecessarily harsh.
This book doesn't make for the easiest of reading, but this coupled with the short chapters, broken up nicely with correspondence to and from the other characters, balance out nicely.
I enjoyed the book in its entirety. on some occasions I admit I skipped a line or two when the descriptions were 'a bit much', but other than that I enjoyed it!
I liked the main character Eliza, at last a heroine that doesn't devote her entire existence t
Samara White
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Loved the imagery in this book set in the 1700s. I grew to really like Eliza, the narrator of the book, who goes from being a naive young girl and a pawn in her mother's schemes to a woman who pushed her way to freedom in a time when women did not have as many options. The story underlying this journey was interesting and suspenseful despite the monotony of her life in the apothecary's home, and I kept turning the pages despite myself (and the time of day). :o)
I honestly can't say much about this book except that when I reached the end, I was very disappointed. I'm not sure if it was that I never really felt empathy for the main character, or that the villain was as dangerous as an ice cream sundae, or that the story just wound up falling short of being interesting. I will say that the synopsis on the dust jacket wound me up for a much better story than what was actually written.
I just kept wondering when this book was going to get interesting. When was she going to get out....what happened to her many questions. I felt like the main character was one person in the beginning and totally another at the end....but not in a good way...just in one that did not make sense. I have to admit I was drawn to the book by the cover and the time period.
Dark and mysterious, and very Dickensian - which makes it weird that I liked it because I really loathe Dickens.

Does an excellent job of absorbing the reader in London in the early 1700's. I felt absorbed in the world - the writing was incredibly evocative. Think I will pick up Clark's first novel since I enjoyed this one so much.

This was an enjoyable read set in in era that has always interested me (and made me glad that I am not in that era:o).

It always amazes me to read about how disgusting London was back then...People would just squat and go to the bathroom out in the open, sewage ran in the street, people would empty out their chamberpots by flinging them out the window (and woe to the person it landed on). Diseases were rampant, blood-letting was the norm and many doctors were quacks. The city was over-run by the
Smalltownreader Shaw
I don't even know how to catergorize this tome. It was a very good read. London, in all its 18th century glory and ruin. A pregnant poor girl founds herself turned out by her mother, and denied her marriage is ransomed to a house in London where she finds she is ransomed for her child. Starved and worked like a slave she befriends an female "idiot" named Mary, and does her best to stay away from the apprentice of the resident apothecary. But it is the strange goings on of said apothecary and his ...more
Mar 12, 2008 Cathy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cathy by: NY Times
It's an interesting idea but not a great story. The author's note on London of the early 1700's at the end of the book was much better than the book itself.
Julie Newton
VERY descriptive!! London was so real. I'm hosting my book club Halloween night - discussing WHO is really a monster!!!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessi Zeidler
I have a rule that I've only broken 3 times in my 25 years. I give a book, any book, 50 pages. If after 50 pages, I don't care what happens next, I put it down and don't look back.

This was one of the exceptions. I made it to page 34 and tomorrow I'm donating it to the library.

Immediately, I was hit with a smut scene, completely unnecessary and completely turned me off. But, I have a rule, so I kept reading. I read poorly written, choppy sequences that left me dizzy. So I stopped.

I am deeply ash
Niki Costantini
Romanzo storico terribile e bellissimo, con più di un tocco gotico. Mi è piaciuto particolarmente il ritratto della Londra dei primi '700 reso dall'autrice: le atmosfere, le ambientazioni, gli odori, i suoi abitanti. Una fotografia impietosa e superba dei prodromi dell'Illuminismo, delle nefandezze degli inizi della ricerca scientifica moderna e di una società che sentiamo oggi estranea anche se forse non così tanto è cambiato da allora, in fondo. Una nota a parte meritano i personaggi, prima su ...more
this book was good though it was very repeditative
Pregnant by the son of a rich family, Eliza gets sent to become a servant at the house of Grayson Black, an apothecary in London. She and the other servant in the house, Mary, become subjects of an experiment on the effect of imagination and emotions on the unborn fetus. Throughout the book, Eliza is trying to find a way to escape what has become a prison for herself and Mary as their master falls farther into madness.
This was an interesting read describing London in the 1700s and the strange an
Nancy Doerrer
By the author of "The Great Stink", this is a great historical fiction piece about early 19th century London. At 15, Eliza Tally gets pregnant and sold into servitude by her mother to a London apothecary, Grayson Black. The household is truly bizarre. London sounds dirty, violent, bustling, greedy. The story is so compelling and is a strong comment on the treatment of the poor, the victimized, the powerless, exploited female laborers, and unplanned pregnancy---a great read! Monsters come in many ...more
Okay, maybe this is unfair... but, I could not bring myself to finish this book.

Frankly, it sucked!

It starts off with a very pointless, and disgusting I might add, smut scene in the very first chapter. I'm no prude - I have read my share of bodice rippers (Bertrice Small) and even some BDSM (Kushiel's Dart)... but still. This opening scene was so unnecessary and gross, as to completely turn me off the book. The way the characters lust was described was just nasty to me.

Then, and if you read ot
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Hard to get into, but good 3 26 Mar 11, 2013 09:51AM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

CLARE CLARK is the author of The Great Stink, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and The Nature of Monsters.
More about Clare Clark...
The Great Stink Beautiful Lies Savage Lands We That Are Left

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