Laird Hunt on Clare Clark's The Nature of Monsters
The Nature of Monsters
by Clare Clark
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That Clare Clark is the author of a critically acclaimed first novel titled The Great Stink should make perfect sense to readers of her second offering. Set largely in the malodorous backstreets and poorly ventilated chambers of early-eighteenth-century London, The Nature of Monsters, like its predecessor (which explores the city's sewers a century later), is a distinctly pungent reading experience—one in which the "powerful stink of pig shit and rotting refuse" mingles with foul-smelling tisanes, decomposing elixirs, and canals choked with "dung and dead cats" to form an olfactory edifice so impressive it easily displaces the frequently evoked dome of Saint Paul's Cathedral as the symbolic heart of the novel.
Such an atmosphere is fitting, because Clark's narrator, Eliza Tally, is both literally and figuratively
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