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The Monster's Daughter

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  182 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Somewhere on the South African veldt, 1901: At the height of the Boer War, a doctor at a British concentration camp conducts a series of grim experiments on Boer prisoners. His work ends in chaos, but two children survive: a boy named Benjamin, and a girl named Tessa.

One hundred years later, a disgraced young police constable is reassigned to the sleepy South African town
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published July 19th 2016 by Melville House
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  182 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Nancy Oakes
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.7 rounded up. Bottom line: good book, really good look at South African history since 1901, and suspension of disbelief is definitely a requirement here. This ain't your average murder mystery, folks. If that's what you're expecting, move along. Plot without spoilers can be found here, or just read on.

There are three different things going on in this novel : first, one of the two main narrative threads has its roots in science/speculative fiction; second, the other thread follows a police
Liz Barnsley
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Monster's Daughter is a brilliantly evocative novel that mashes up historical, crime and speculative fiction into a gloriously addictive and epic read, set in South Africa and with some dark themes right at the heart of it.

A police officer in exile determines to discover the truth behind a burnt body discovered on a farm - little does she know that the path towards the truth will take her back over a century to dark experiments during a violent war and whose ripple effect may come closer to
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-tour, to-review
The Monster’s Daughter was haunting, beautiful, and I really enjoyed the journey. There’s really three genres going on in this book; it wasn’t just your run of the mill murder mystery. There’s a mystery/thriller with main character Alet and her investigation into the murder of a woman in small town Unie, and there’s a historical fiction part with the incorporation of South African history from the early 1900s until present day, which is wrapped up with a speculative fiction or science fiction ...more
nikkia neil
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, edelweiss
This will blow you away, it's that good!

I can't say enough how much I was impressed with this novel. I look forward to more from Michelle Pretorius.
Lilly Street
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
I own a bookstore so I spend my day matchmaking people and books. There are readers (I can think of two off the top of my head) that I’d suggest this to because it is an interesting book and it works for a certain type of reader. That said, I tried to like it. I really did. The writing while crisp and smart is often flat and has a reported feel to it. I found the characters hard care about because they did not really emote in a way that I could connect to. Most readers when they are browsing ...more
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This intricately-plotted, painstakingly researched novel blends crime thriller, science fiction, and historical fiction into one of the most original and exciting debuts to be published in recent years. At once a breakneck thriller and literary exploration of the turbulent history of South Africa, Pretorius alternates chapters between a horrific crime scene investigation in 2010 and historical chapters spanning from the Boer War to the present, seamlessly weaving the two threads together with ...more
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Pretorius uses a fantastical story to uncover the pain and violence behind South Africa's history, from the Boer War to Apartheid to the present day. Her writing paints a vivid picture of the country, from its physical landmarks to its blemished past, with a wide range of characters and plenty of suspense. Highly recommended!

**I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.**
The Monster's Daughter starts in 2010, where we meet Constable Alet Berg on the side of the highway by the town of Unie, at the scene of an accident. Soon after, Alet and her partner, Sergeant Johannes Mathebe are called to a local farm where a burned body has been found and Alet is determined to solve the crime--despite all of the obstacles that come her way. The book then goes back to 1901 where a young British Corporal is a reluctant part of the "scorched earth policy" of destroying and ...more
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-tours, 2016
Review part of TLC Book Tours:
2010 - Modern Day (Post Apartheid South Africa) Constable Alet Berg has been demoted and relocated to serve her probation on traffic duty in Unie a small quiet, 'out of the way' town. At the discovery of a badly burned body, and desperate to get into something more exciting, Alet deviously manoeuvres herself into position to assist Mathebe the local chief investigating officer in solving the crime. During the course of the investigation she will unwittingly uncover
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Alet Berg has a long way to go to impress her higher ups, especially considering how she landed in her current predicament. Relegated to the small town of Unie, Alet realizes her chance when the burned body of an unidentified teenage girl is discovered on a local farm. And even though her superiors don't want her on the investigation, she plans to dig into the case anyway.

A century ago, with the Boer war raging around them, a young girl was forced into an experiment she had no understanding of.
Nose in a book (Kate)
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book opens with the discovery of a murder in a small town called Unie in 2010. The head of the police investigation, Sergeant Johannes Mathebe, is a straight player and he’s not getting on well with his recently appointed assistant Constable Alet Berg. She drinks, she swears and she resents being in this small town – a punishment for having an affair with one of the senior officers during her training.

The next chapter opens in 1901, in the midst of the Boer War. British troops are clearing
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this so much, will now read nothing but this specific blend of South African thriller/sf/historical fiction. Sadly, it does not appear to be an established genre, and even if it were, I doubt many authors could do it justice. Since it is the author's first and so far only novel, I had to resort to checking out the publisher in the hopes of finding more examples of their good judgement (I did).

If you like your genres kept strictly separate, by all means avoid this one. But if you're
Tessa is born as part of a genetic experiment in South Africa near the turn of the 20th Century. Alet is a cop who messed up her chance to be in the elite squad in the big city. Stuck in Unie, she now is after a murderer. Both are trying to move forward against relentless turmoil, family tragedy and evil men.

There are good men too: Andrew, Phillip, Jacob, Mathebe. But life is not easy for those who try to do good.

Part mystery, part speculative fiction, part historical fiction. This book was a
Kathleen Gray
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
All I can say is WOW- and please, Michelle Pretorius- write more novels! This mystery/historical/thriller/political novel is one of the most impressive debuts I've read in a long time. You will cringe at how black South Africans were treated and how white South Africans treated one another. There are horrors here but there is also goodness, especially in poor Tessa's soul. There are several important twists at the end that I did not see coming. HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend!!!!

thank you Arlington
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Longest, slowest read of my life. Teetered with a possible DNF but hacked onwards. Three pages at a time before falling into a coma. Perfect book at night. Quick read then out cold. ...more
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it
While the historical information about South Africa was fascinating the book became confusing with the mix of characters, timelines and sub plots.
Aug 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: blog-tour
Full review and giveaway up on my blog:
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-authors
The Monster’s Daughter is an impressively ambitious debut novel by South African born Michelle Pretorius. Many first-time authors would have steered clear of multiple points of view, a plot which shifts between South Africa during the Boer War of the early 1900s and the post apartheid rainbow nation of 2010 and deals with issues of race, obsession and police corruption. But Pretorius dives in fearlessly to deliver a novel that blends historical thriller, sci-fi and police procedural genres.

Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is not a book to read, leave and come back to later. The reader needs to read this carefully and put the pieces of the puzzle together to understand how every character was involved and when the loose ends have been tied, it’s an amazing read and we’re left with a wow experience at the final page of the book.

It’s definitely not a quick read but meant to be read slowly as the book spans through the early 1900’s right until present time. One must also follow who’s who in the book and keep in
May 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Probably the least interesting thriller I've read. Pretorius uses her long-lived characters to trace the history of South Africa. It is so artificial that they exist merely to serve the story. They are barely characters themselves. And the story is a beat for beat generic thriller of shadowy forces in the background, a for-no-reason deranged villain, and a twist that lands with a thud.

The motivation of the villain is non-sensical, the twists and coincidences shallow and silly, nothing at all
Candi - acrimereadersblog
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Monster’s Daughter is the debut novel by Michelle Pretorius. The novel is a story in three parts. It’s a thriller, a historical novel and also a bit science fiction. It starts in 2010 when we are introduced to Alet, a disgraced police constable who has been reassigned to the small town of Unie. Here she discovers the body of a woman burned beyond all recognition. Her investigations soon lead her to believe there is a serial killer stalking women. Alongside this murder mystery we are treated ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Three and a half stars though the story is so unnerving the word "like" seems inappropriate as part of the rating. While the library system has slotted this book into the mystery genre, I think it fits better into the historical fiction milieu. Essentially the book spans the horrific history of South Africa from the Boer War to the present. Ms. Pretorius presents a remarkable debut. Chapters flow back and forth in time with two genetically altered beings used as the continuing thread that holds ...more
Jo Barton
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
The novel opens in 2010 where we meet one of our protagonists. Alet is a young police officer who has been sent to the small South African town of Unie following a professional misdemeanour. Suspicious of a woman police officer the locals don't take kindly to Alet and she faces small town prejudice which hampers her investigation into the death of a young woman.

Travelling back in time to the early 1900s, we meet Tessa Morgan who senses that she is different but who lives a fairly sheltered
A powerful and compelling historical thriller/speculative fiction that was beautifully written. The Monster's Daughter is suspenseful with a cast of characters that are uniquely flawed. I thought the book was excellent, and that the plot had a nice flow. Could not put down and I am really looking forward to reading more from this author.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was part sci-fi, part murder mystery, and part social commentary, but the whole didn't add up to the sum of it's parts. The murder mystery and social commentary parts worked well, but the sci-fi plot really dragged things down. But I admire the attempt and would be interested in reading her next book.
Jennifer Pullen
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel is fantastic. I remember seeing a short story set in this world in workshop at Ohio University, and I was fascinated. I remember Michelle saying that her preferred form was novels. Now, reading this novel, I have to say, her love of the novel shows. It is structured beautifully, each piece of the work contributing to a satisfying and interesting whole.
Charlotte Blessing
I loved this book. Genius plot, a murder mystery out of the ordinary, historical fiction, spiced with sone thought provoking sci-fi elements. The narrative structure worked well for me, liked how two different time periods come together in the end. Best crime book of the year.
Carol Boyce
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved the historical aspect. Well written, and a definite twist that I did not see coming at the end.
Ryan Mann
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
A little long and drawn out (timeline-wise) with lots of flashbacks made it a little tiring and slow, but interesting characters and concept. Fascinating glimpse into fictional South Africa.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved the South African history. At times I had trouble telling what kind of novel it was--mystery, thriller, science fiction, historical fiction, etc.? Maybe all of those. Alet is quite a flawed character but that made her all the more realistic. Pretty engrossing book and the last 100 pages--wow!
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Born and raised in South Africa, Michelle received a B.A. at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. She has lived in London, New York, and the Midwest and holds an MFA in Fiction Writing. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Creative Writing at Ohio University.