Article published on June 26, 2017.
There’s much to recommend this book but there is a little of the curate’s egg about it. Undeniably, it is well written with an understanding of language. Quality writing with evocative. descriptive passages. The characterisations are perceptive and engaging. But the plot and sub-plots present as confused to a certain degree. I’m all for genre fusion but some of the fusion was lacking for me.
I freely admit that I do not understand politics. It leaves me cold; national and international. Along with religion it seems to be responsible for the majority of ills in the world. And there was a great deal of South African politics in this story. But it wasn’t a wholly political novel.
This fiction has tentacles in both the past and the present. But some of the past narrative seems to be more entrenched in a futuristic, sci fi dystopia than Boer war atrocities. Yet it is not a wholly dystopian, sci fi or a war novel.
Alet Berg is a substantial character; a resourceful and likeable policewoman with a history and a crime to solve against all the odds. I probably enjoyed this aspect of the book the most. It was an intriguing crime but this is not wholly a crime thriller.
All the strands do interweave and link up and when you reach the conclusion of the book the ends are more or less tied up. This is an ambitious piece of work. There is nothing wrong with ambition but I feel here that too much material has diluted the impact of each strand. It is as if the writer has thrown everything they ever wanted to write about in this one book. The reader is given plenty to think about and plenty to try and figure out.
Nevertheless, I found it a worthwhile read and the quality of writing suggests that Ms. Pretorious is a name to keep an eye on.
Gill Chedgey 3/4
The Monster’s Daughter by Michelle Pretorius
Melville House UK 9781911545057 pbk Jul 2017
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