In Victorian England, unmarried 28-year-old Iseult believes that she murdered her mother during childbirth, and now the woman's ghost resides in the scar on her neck and haunts Iseult. When Iseult finally finds a man to marry, she nearly goes mad with the emotional abuse she endures from her mother's ghost as well as her living father in the days leading up to the wedding.
A weird and bloody ghost story combining the terror of mental illness with body horror that, while set in a gothic world, features a sensibility more at home in the 21st century. Similar in appeal to the intense psychological suspense of Sarah Waters's The Little Stranger mixed with the real-life horror of the domestic abuse and self-harm at the heart of Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects.
Pohlig’s uneven debut fuses romantic comedy and gothic horror in a tale of family trauma ... While repetitive chapters with Iseult and Beatrice break the spell of the Victorian ghost story, Pohlig handles the wry set pieces of ill-fated courtship with aplomb, and the novel eventually gains momentum through a bloody series of twists and turns. Pohlig’s antimarriage plot will interest fans of revisionist gothic fiction.
Unfortunately, the novel is bloody and graphic in a way that sometimes feels gratuitous. Though there are moments of humor and levity, they are rare ... Despite a pitch-perfect final scene, the strange, grotesque novel has too much narrative fluff. Bloody and bizarre.