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The Unsuitable

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  490 ratings  ·  193 reviews
A fierce blend of Gothic ghost story and Victorian novel of manners that’s also pitch perfect for our current cultural moment

Iseult Wince is a Victorian woman perilously close to spinsterhood whose distinctly unpleasant father is trying to marry her off. She is awkward, plain, and most pertinently, believes that her mother, who died in childbirth, lives in the scar on her
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published April 14th 2020 by Henry Holt & Company
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  490 ratings  ·  193 reviews

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Miranda Reads
Jan 30, 2020 rated it did not like it

i may not remember you, but i cannot forget you. i poke my finger a little further underneath the scab...
Iseult Wince is a young(ish) Victorian woman (aka still young by our standards and a painfully unmarriageable age by Victorian standards).

And so her father decides enough is enough, she will get married...or else.
The lace collar crawled to the top of her throat...
And there's a lovely(ish) man who has a peculiar skin condition who is willing to look past Iseult's age and othe
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
The below review originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Most of our mothers would be proud to think that their voices remain in our heads long after we leave the nest, providing us with guidance as we ponder how best to handle tough life situations. Such an arrangement is most productive in the figurative sense, with our mothers’ wisdom only being employed on demand, and when necessary. Iseult, the haunted heroine of Molly Pohlig’s gothic Victorian novel, “The Unsuitable,” has no cho
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
As a single bookworm in her 30s, I feel a special kinship with spinster bluestocking characters.

Totally unrelated.
Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)
This is quite the interesting read. I'm utterly fascinated with books dealing with mental health and how it was dealt with in history. And as we all know, times have changed drastically in this field. Pohlig brings us Iseult (I STILL can't figure out how to pronounce this so my mind kept pronouncing it a bit differently each time). Iseult lost her mother before she could ever meet her but feels she lives in this scar in her neck as she hears her voice on the daily. The run on sentences in these ...more
Janelle Janson
Thank you Henry Holt for my free copy.

THE UNSUITABLE is a bloody, outlandish gothic tale set in the Victorian era. It’s full of dark scenes and even darker thoughts.

Iseult is twenty-eight, a spinster, and her father is desperately trying to marry her off. Even though her father is a cruel man, she resists the idea of getting married and keeps a black book detailing her unsuitable suitors. Iseult has another problem: she is haunted by a voice in her head. Her mother died during child birth leavi
Jun 03, 2020 rated it liked it
3 stars--I liked the book. Content warning for self harm/body horror.

There's a new trend of adding gruesome horror to gothic stories, and I love it! This novel goes one step further and adds some dark comedy--at least until the end. (I'm being vague here to avoid spoilers.) I enjoyed the book but the ending was rough. In retrospect, the story couldn't have any other conclusion, but still--depressing.

I enjoyed the Yellow Wallpaper references. I wish the characters used more historically accurate
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it

This was…a lot of somethings.

I’m going to just throw a bunch of trigger warnings on it now.

Trigger warnings: self mutilation, suicide, blood.

This is Gothic Victorian Horror with lots and lots of self mutilation. If you are in any way uncomfortable with that, please do not read any further. Thank you.

This is the story of Iselut Wince. A 20 something year old in the Victorian times whose father seeks to find a proper suitor for her.

Just a couple of issues.

She’s 28 so nun age in those times, he
Caidyn (he/him/his)
CW: death of a parent (past), neglect, self-harm (on the page), suicide, auditory hallucinations, and general scenes of violence and blood

Wow, I didn't know what to expect from this book. I went into this not knowing a lot and I, honestly, think that's best. I'm going to keep my summary pretty short for that reason. Iseult is a woman in Victorian times. Her father isn't that fond of her. Her mother died in childbirth, but her presence is very real in Iseult's life. Why? Because she hears her mot
Tiffany PSquared
Wow. Will I ever be clear about anything that happened in this book? Hard to say, but it's definitely one that I'll remember. I mean honestly, it's hard to forget about a story where the main character's mother lives in a scar on her neck. After you know that, how can anything else that happens turn out to be good?
My overall takeaway from this story is that madness is maddening.
Jun 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
In a similar vein of Han Kang's The Vegetarian, this book is about a woman self-destructing in an attempt to gain some control over her life. Living in a manor house with her controlling father and his staff, she is tormented by the voice of her dead mother and acts out by self-harming. While I wouldn't call this book scary, I would say there's a fair amount of body horror, so it's not for the squeamish.

I wish this book was even more bizarre. It hinted at being paranormal, and at times I felt a
Mar 02, 2020 added it
Shelves: net-galley
Very darkly disturbing and probably the strangest thing I have ever read! The main characters mother died in childbirth having her, the baby shot out , umblilical cord around her throat and dead. She was saved by the nurse. Years later her deceased mom talks to her and harasses her from the scar. There is very disturbing suicide attempts , self harm and abuse. Her father tries to marry her off to no avail. A man whose skin is silver and comes along and offers to marry her. It's not an easy read ...more
Jessica Haider
Set in the Victorian era, this novel is about a young woman named Iseult Wince. She lives with her unpleasant widower father who is intent on marrying her off. Her father brings one unsuitable suitor after another before her but she scares them all away. You see, while her father is a miserable man who is horrible to his only child, Iseult is not the ideal young woman...she is plain, awkward...and she seems to believe that her dead mother haunts a scar in her neck. The story goes that Iseault's ...more
Unsuitable by Molly Pohlig is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

Now that I got that out of my system. This book was everything I hoped for and boy, did I get it ten fold.
Miss Iseult is a bit different, a bit odd, a bit peculiar.. Her father despises her and her mother passed away in childbirth, or so she was told. During this childbirth, Iseult had her clavicle broken and endured surgeries to fix the abnormality. As she grew older, she began to believe that her mother lived within the scar. Her mother would spea
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a story about a young woman whose mother lives in her neck. That’s actually how the author herself pithily described the book in her afterword. But, obviously, there’s more to the story than that. The thing is, though, not that much more. In fact, it probably would have made a much more potent short story or a novella. On the novel canvas, it seems somewhat stretched out quite thin. The young woman does indeed have her mother with her at all times as it were in a most unusual fashion of ...more
Audra (ouija.reads)
Now available!

A grim tale that you can’t look away from yet are afraid to probe too closely, much like a crushed car on the side of the road. Why is it that we cling to the things that scare us? Perhaps mostly because it reminds us that we are still alive, that we are lucky to have survived another day.

In The Unsuitable, Iseult is trying her best to survive too. She is twenty-eight and basically a spinster, since her horrible father can’t seem to marry her off. And why doesn’t anyone feel inclin
Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
**Trigger warning: self-harm, cutting, suicide**

Iseult Wince is awkward and plain. Her dad is determined to marry her off, but Iseult keeps running them off. Her mother died in childbirth and Iseult believes that she lives in the scar on her neck, a scar that is a constant reminder of her part in her mother’s death. When her father finally finds her a suitor that will marry her, her mother becomes more vocal and violent and drives Iseult to do the unthinkable.

Iseult is probably the most interest
CloudOfThoughts_Books Keirstin
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Unsuitable by author Molly Pohlig is so far a GREAT fiction! I will update review in full closer to release date. The Unsuitable releases next year in April!

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an arc copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Marathon County Public Library
Victorian, Gothic, Dark Humor.

Iseult Wince is getting too old. Soon, she’ll be a spinster, which everyone knows is the worst fate of all. Iseult is a bit odd, and her father dislikes her. His goal is to find her a suitable husband (i.e. any man who will take her). Iseult believes her mother died while giving birth to her, resulting in a scar on her neck, that her mother lives in. Speaking to her dead mother, moving more like a puppet than a person, and an overall frail body make Iseult far from
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gothic
(Advanced readers copy from the publisher via net gallery)
A disturbing and daring debut. Iseult is the most disturbed character in a Gothic novel in history. The feel of the book is a cross between Ibsen’s ‘The Doll House’ and Henry James’ ‘The Turn of the screw’. The novel did seem a little uneven at the start but it made up for it by being full of surprises towards the end. Not an easy read in subject matter or plot.

An interesting new voice to the world of historical fiction, may Pohlig cont
Addie BookCrazyBlogger
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc-s
I’m a huge fan of horror movies but I feel like this book takes horror to a brand new level. I genuinely couldn’t tell if I was dealing with a possession, a ghost or a really bad case of schizophrenia. Iseult is a Victorian age spinster (28) who lives at home, claiming that her mother lives in her neck. Her mother allegedly died via childbirth when the inexperienced midwife pulled Iseult out by her feet, causing Iseult’s collarbone to snap inside and her mother to bleed to death. Her father desp ...more
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Whee! This was weird and super gross and also kind of hilarious in a way that made me feel a little guilty for laughing yet unable to stop myself.

Labeling this book gothic horror is a bit misleading. It’s a good deal more visceral than standard gothic. Stabbing oneself in the neck with sewing scissors is a good deal more, um, modern in its brand of horror than the typical Creepy Thing Stalking Around in Attic motif of the genre.

Still, that’s a publisher’s error, as I don’t think the author int
Mary Proietti
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A wonderfully dark and unique novel that keeps you in suspense and ends with a bang!
Mitra Mustafa
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you HenryHolt USA for sending me the E-ARC of this book via Net-Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Iseult is a 28 years old Victorian girl, who believes that the ghost of her mother lives in her neck, her father despises her for her odd behavior and for being a laughingstock in the society, he is trying to marry her off but Iseult always frightens away her Unsuitable suitors. In her mind Iseult keeps talking to her mother who always confuses her and makes her do things that Iseult ha
Natasja | natasjalovesbooks
2.5 stars

This was a weird book. I couldn't really get into it. The premise excited me (a gory blend of Gothic fiction and a Victorian novel of manners, yes please), which is why I said yes when I was approached to review it, but I was ultimately disappointed by it. The characters were very underdeveloped and the story felt stretched. This could probably have been a really interesting novella, but as a novel, it was just way too long as nothing much actually happened. This is pretty much just the
Danielle Trussoni
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Iseult Wince, the heroine of Molly Pohlig’s Victorian-era psychological novel The Unsuitable is a “drab and faded” woman on the verge of spinsterhood and is haunted by her mother, Beatrice, who died in childbirth. Now, Beatrice has burrowed herself deep into a scar on Iseult’s collarbone, left when “she was born and killed her mother.”

In snippets of dialogue woven throughout the novel, Beatrice harangues her child about everything from killing her to Iseult’s choice of suitors. Their bickering,
Unnerving. Unsettling. Strange. Grim. Bloody. Elegant. Disturbing. Delicate. Macabre.
28 year old Iseult believes her dead mother (who she killed) lives in the gruesome scar on her neck. This unusual and strange and twisted story is not for the faint of heart. It deals heavily with grief, eating disorders, depression, personality disorders, and much more. (This is not a tale of healing or happily ever afters.) For me, this tale ticks all of the boxes for a classic psychological Victorian gothic
Jul 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
At first, I struggled with this book, because of the inclusion of self-harm, which I was unprepared for. However, as the story progressed, the tension gripped me and I held my breath as I waited to find out how it would end. The entire book is discomforting: all of the food is congealed and unappetizing, the description of self-harm forces the reader to wince in empathetic pain, and all the relationships are terse and secretive. All of this makes for a good horror story.
My one complaint would b
Caryn - iam.caryn
I grew up loving gothic ghost stories. It’s basically the number one genre in my heart. Books containing stories like this are few and far between, so I was itching to read this.

I’m sad to say that the writing of The Unsuitable didn’t click with me. It was a bit choppy and felt incomplete. I had to DNF it because it wasn’t holding my attention.
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
I don't feel like this is made clear at all in the description so:

If you choose to read this book know that it contains very graphic self-harm, and these self-harm scenes take up a good chunk of the novel. Like, at least a third of all the pages in this book are about self-harm.
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Mother's Day seemed fitting to put this review out. Last month I read The Unsuitable. A very unique tale where the main character believes her deceased mother lives on within in her, literally.
Thank you to @henryholtbooks and @netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Set in Victorian times, this gothic ghost story is a macabre journey for the reader as the main character is forced to deal with unwanted suitors, a resentful father, and the mother whom she believes lives i
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“She had received the usual sex education of a moderately privileged Victorian woman- that is to say, none.” 0 likes
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