Two unusual Victorian gentlemen, a botanical garden and an experiment gone awry: A Botanical Daughter by Noah Medlock #bookreview #ABotanicalDaughter #NetGalley

Mexican Gothic meets The Lie Tree by way of Oscar Wilde and Mary Shelley in this delightfully witty horror debut.
A captivating tale of two Victorian gentlemen hiding their relationship away in a botanical garden who embark on a Frankenstein-style experiment with unexpected consequences.
It is an unusual thing, to live in a botanical garden. But Simon and Gregor are an unusual pair of gentlemen. Hidden away in their glass sanctuary from the disapproving tattle of Victorian London, they are free to follow their own interests without interference. For Simon, this means long hours in the dark basement workshop, working his taxidermical art. Gregor’s business is exotic plants – lucrative, but harmless enough. Until his latest acquisition, a strange fungus which shows signs of intellect beyond any plant he’s seen, inspires him to attempt a masterwork: true intelligent life from plant matter.
Driven by the glory he’ll earn from the Royal Horticultural Society for such an achievement, Gregor ignores the flaws in his plan: that intelligence cannot be controlled; that plants cannot be reasoned with; and that the only way his plant-beast will flourish is if he uses a recently deceased corpse for the substrate.
The experiment – or Chloe, as she is named – outstrips even Gregor’s expectations, entangling their strange household. But as Gregor’s experiment flourishes, he wilts under the cost of keeping it hidden from jealous eyes. The mycelium grows apace in this sultry greenhouse. But who is cultivating whom?
Told with wit and warmth, this is an extraordinary tale of family, fungus and more than a dash of bloody revenge from an exciting new voice in queer horror.


Hi and welcome to my review of A Botanical Daughter!

If you know me even a little bit, it will come as no surprise at all that A Botanical Daughter had me at its cover. The mention of Mexican Gothic made it impossible to walk away and that one sentence: two Victorian gentlemen hiding their relationship away in a botanical garden who embark on a Frankenstein-style experiment with unexpected consequences? Well, hello, lover!

On the brink of a reading slump, feeling a bit let down by books I was sure I would love, A Botanical Daughter called to me, and with some trepidation at stepping into the unknown, I decided to answer. And boy, am I glad I did! WHAT A BOOK!

A Botanical Daughter is to plants what Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is to humankind and C.E. McGill’s Our Hideous Progeny to animals, and I loved every second of it. It might be one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read (and I was thinking that before the absolute weirdest love-making scene EVER) but I mean that in the best possible way.

I loved Gregor and Simon, the botanist and taxidermist who join forces to create life, and who make an somewhat unlikely but really rather cute couple, and I loved  Jenny, their housekeeper / governess. But I adored CHLOE, the daughter, the all natural and yet supremely unnatural being that was never supposed to be. I felt pity, I felt sorrow for this creature, and I felt happiness. Seriously, all the feels for what is essentially a blob of fungus? Somebody give Noah Medlock an award, stat!

Historical fiction, fantasy, drama, horror, A Botanical Daughter does not fit into a single genre box and much like its creature, all the elements are wonderfully symbiotic. A tale of life, death and love, laced with both sorrow and humour, I had a fantastic time with A Botanical Daughter and I will be reading whatever Noah Medlock decides to write next. Recommended!

A Botanical Daughter will be out in paperback and digital formats on 19 March.

Massive thanks to Titan Books and NetGalley for the digital review copy. All opinions are my own.

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