Verity Holloway's Pseudotooth was published by Unsung Stories in March 2017.
Information about Verity Holloway:
Born in Gibraltar in 1986, Verity Holloway grew up following her Navy family around the world. Always on the move, dealing with the effects of her connective tissue disorder, Marfan syndrome, she found friendly territory in fantasy, history, and Fortean oddities.
In 2007, she graduated from Cambridge's Anglia Ruskin University with a First Class BA in Literature and Creative Writing. She went on to earn a Distinction Masters in Literature with special focus on Dante Gabriel Rossetti's The House of Life.
Her short stories and poems have been variously published. Her story Cremating Imelda was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and in 2012 she published my first chapbook, Contraindications. Her 'delightfully weird' novella, Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs, was released in 2015, and in October 2016 Pen & Sword will publish her first non-fiction book, The Mighty Healer: Thomas Holloway's Patent Medicine Empire, a biography of her Victorian cousin who made his fortune with questionable remedies. Unsung Stories published her novel Pseudotooth in March 2017.
Click here to visit her official website.
Information about Pseudotooth:
The debut novel from Verity Holloway, Pseudotooth is an adult take on 'portal fantasy', boldly tackling issues of trauma responses, social difference and our conflicting desires for purity and acceptance.
Aisling Selkirk is a young woman beset by unexplained blackouts, pseudo-seizures that have baffled both the doctors and her family. Sent to recuperate in the Suffolk countryside, she seeks solace in the work of William Blake and writing her journal, filling its pages with her visions of Feodor, an East Londoner haunted by his family's history back in Russia.
The discovery of a Tudor priest hole and its disturbed former inhabitant lead Aisling into a meeting with the enigmatic Chase and on to an unfamiliar town where the rule of Our Friend is absolute and those deemed unfit and undesirable have a tendency to disappear into The Quiet...
This bold new work of literary fantasy blurs the lines between dream and reality, asking troubling questions about those who society shuns, and why.
A REVIEW OF VERITY HOLLOWAY'S PSEUDOTOOTH
Verity Holloway's debut novel, Pseudotooth, is an excellent literary speculative fiction novel. It's one of the best novels of its kind, because it's a beautifully written and thought-provoking novel with plenty of style and substance.
I'm glad I had an opportunity to read Pseudotooth, because it's the kind of speculative fiction that deeply fascinates me. I enjoyed reading this novel, because the author successfully blurs the lines between dream and reality, taking the story into exciting directions with her riveting approach to difficult themes.
Pseudotooth is an interesting novel, because it can be classified as a kind of a blend of adult fiction and young adult fiction with a touch of slipstream fiction and magical realism. Although young adult readers may enjoy this novel, I personally recommend it to adult readers due to its challenging themes.
When I began to read Pseudotooth, I was amazed at the quality of the prose and the depth of the story. It was a bit difficult for me to believe that this novel is the work of a debut novelist, because the story flowed effortlessly, the characterisation was excellent and the author dared to explore challenging themes. Normally, there are at least a few tiny flaws in debut novels, but there are no flaws in this novel, because everything feels polished.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
At the beginning, Aisling Selkirk and her mother, Beverley, are at the doctor's office discussing Aisling's scans, because she has had pseudo-seizures. The scans reveal nothing out of the ordinary and the doctor says that there's nothing physically wrong with her... Beverley drives Aisling to the Suffolk countryside so that she can recuperate there and spend time with her great-aunt Edyth at the old vicarage. Edyth's brother, Robert, is also at the vicarage. Aisling seeks solace in William Blake's poetry and writes her journal... Aisling channels violent dreams and visions about a young man called Feodor, whose detailed history can be found in her diary. Feodor is a Londoner who is haunted by his family's history... When Aisling discovers a Tudor priest hole, meets Chase and hears about what has happened at the vicarage, the lines between dreams and reality begin to blur...
This is all I'll write about this finely-crafted story, because I don't want to reveal too many details about it. The less you know about the story, the more you'll enjoy it.
The characterisation is exceptionally good, because the author writes engagingly about Aisling who has been raised by her mother, Beverley. Aisling doesn't have a father, because Eliot left Beverley in the care of his aunt, Edythe, and then disappeared from their lives. Both Aisling and her mother, Beverley, are well-created characters. Feodor and Chase are also interesting characters, and so is Edyth, because she's a strict woman who isn't intentionally cruel.
I found the Verity Holloway's way of exploring acceptance, mental illness and recuperation genuinely intriguing. She is strikingly honest and realistic when she writes about them. I'm sure that Aisling's condition will cause an emotional response in the readers, because the author describes how Aisling feels about her condition and her life (Aisling desperately wants to get well, she has to take pills and she's often nauseous).
One of the things that I like about this novel is that there's a wonderful balance between realistic elements and fantastical elements. It's almost uncanny how vividly the author writes about these elements and how easily she combines them, because everything feels compelling and the fascinatingly bleak, strange and dream-like atmosphere makes the story all the more immersive. She explores what is real and what is not in her own unique way.
I loved the author's writing style and beautiful prose. I found the prose gorgeous, because the sentences are well-structured and the descriptions are evocative. The author conjures up powerful images with her sentences and evokes a sense of strangeness that will enthrall readers.
I think that readers who have are familiar with the stories written by Nina Allan and Christopher Barzak will find this novel especially intriguing, because there's something in it that is reminiscent of their stories. I have a strong feeling that the complex and unusual story will charm many readers.
I sincerely hope that Verity Holloway will continue to write more novels, because she has a beautiful literary voice and she doesn't hesitate to write about difficult themes. Based on this novel, I can say that she's an assured and confident author who writes fluent and nuanced prose. She's definitely an author to watch.
Verity Holloway's Pseudotooth is a deeply compelling and beautifully written novel that readers of literary speculative fiction can't afford to miss, because Aisling's story beckons to be read and re-read. It's something different and evocative, so don't hesitate to read it.