|MPH Books 2017|
Paperback now released 27 July 2017
What's it all about..
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 of Unie, where she makes a terrifying discovery: the body of a young woman, burned beyond recognition.
The crime soon leads her into her country's violent past a past that includes her father, a high-ranking police official under the apartheid regime, and the children left behind in that long ago concentration camp.
What did I think about 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 existence with her father Andrew Morgan who was once a soldier caught up in the Boer War conflict.
On the surface neither of these stories should have any real connection but gradually as the jigsaw puzzle starts to slot together, we begin to understand the links between a modern day South African police officer and a series of uncomfortable experiments which happened over a hundred years ago during the Boer War.
Initially, I found the novel difficult to get into until I had found some emotional connection to the characters which took a little while to sit easy with me. However, by about a third of the way into the story I found that the finer points of the plot became easier to follow. In many ways this is a slow burner of a story and one which requires concentration and an ability to just go along with the story wherever it leads.
The author writes well and explains the South African history and landscape as only a true South African can. Combining dark historical fiction with a chilling modern day murder mystery is an inspired idea which, in The Monster’s Daughter, comes together in a shattering conclusion.
About the Author
Michelle Pretorius was born and raised in South Africa. She received an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago and is currently a PhD candidate at Ohio University. She has written for a number of publications, including Bookslut, Word Riot, and the Copperfield Review. She is a recipient of the John Schultz and Betty Shiflett prize and lives in Athens, Ohio.
My thanks to Nikki at Melville House books for my review copy of The Monster's Daughter