The Nature of Monsters (Hardcover)

By Clare Clark

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780151012060, 400pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 2007



1666: The Great Fire of London sweeps through the streets and a heavily pregnant woman flees the flames. A few months later she gives birth to a child disfigured by a red birthmark.

1718: Sixteen-year-old Eliza Tally sees the gleaming dome of St. Paul's Cathedral rising above a rebuilt city. She arrives as an apothecary's maid, a position hastily arranged to shield the father of her unborn child from scandal. But why is the apothecary so eager to welcome her when he already has a maid, a half-wit named Mary? Why is Eliza never allowed to look her veiled master in the face or go into the study where he pursues his experiments? It is only on her visits to the Huguenot bookseller who supplies her master's scientific tomes that she realizes the nature of his obsession. And she knows she has to act to save not just the child but Mary and herself.

With exquisite prose, dark humor, and a historian's eye for detail, Clare Clark has created another transporting novel.

Praise For The Nature of Monsters


"In rich Dickensian detail, Clark creates the whole city teeming with life and decay . . . It’s a gripping exploration of the unmentionable currents that run beneath the surface of our lives—and it reeks of talent."—THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD

"A crackerjack historical novel that combines the creepy intrigue of Caleb Carr, the sensory overload of Peter Ackroyd and the academic curiosity of A. S. Byatt."—LOS ANGELES TIMES

"Clark''s empathetic portrait of the power

"Brave, full-hearted . . .A compelling story which will draw in, for different reasons, fans of Sarah Waters'' dense narrative complexities and Andrew Miller''s metaphysical horrors. Clark meets the 18th century on its own terms: knocks its wig off, twists its private parts and spits in its eye."

"Clark has talent and energy to burn."