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on 9 May 2017
Meet the freaks, vulnerable and exploited, their unique otherness depriving them of their right to live their own lives. Abel, immortal and unbreakable, a broken man. Eve, furry fury, craves what none will give her.
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on 3 September 2017
A very easy and fascinating novel to read. I had to read this for uni but found it hard to put down, it was definitely one of the most enjoyable books I've had to read. My only complaint is slightly petty but really annoyed me - Rosie Garland's use of 'should of' instead of 'should have'. I'm not sure if it was used for the sake of dialect for the characters or if it was a genuine grammar mistake but either way it really got to me. Otherwise though it's a great book.
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on 31 August 2013
Perhaps the more cynical of you will find it all a bit formulaic but I found that I could become attached to the protaganists and cared a great deal about them. Absolutely loved the book. Well done Rosie for a first novel it was a corker
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 5 February 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This wonderful debut novel was way outside my usual comfort zone, but I found it mesmerising. The writing is wonderful, and I've spent the last day living in Josiah Arroner's Palace of Curiosities with Abel, the Flayed Man and Eve, the Lion Faced Girl. At the start, I thought the present tense telling would be difficult - it's a great tribute to the author's mastery of her craft that I stopped being aware of it very quickly, and it only helped to draw me in to the here and now of this murky and disturbing world. There are some pretty horrifying, repulsive and explicit scenes, and the book certainly wouldn't appeal to everyone - but I witnessed them all willingly and with my eyes wide open. The Victoran backdrop is familiar enough - and so well drawn - but I adored the distorted lens through which everything else is seen. What an imagination - I'll look forward to reading more by Rosie Garland.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 February 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This tale of 2 `curiosities' in a Victorian freak show is part historical romance, part surreal fantasy, part Victorian extravaganza. A tale of Eve, The Lion Faced Girl and Abel, The Flayed Man, a man who cannot die. Eve's tale left me rather cold in the beginning; I couldn't seem to engage with her. My interest lifted when the mysterious, amnesiac Abel entered the tale. But when the two get together, as members of Josiah Arroner's Palace of Curiosities, the story became absolutely gripping, and with such wonderful literary writing. Rosie Garland captures the unique and harsh world of the Victorian freak show so completely - for the last three days, I've been completely absorbed in Eve and Abel's strange, harsh world - and here, I do feel a warning is needed. There is some terrible animal cruelty, and appalling brutality to humans, too. It doesn't dominate the book, but it is given in full and dreadful detail. It was too much for me, I was skipping through whole paragraphs at times. That aside, this is a unique and enthralling book that I highly recommend.
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VINE VOICEon 25 March 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Beautifully written, with an immediately captivating setting and idea - it follows Eve, a girl born covered in hair, as she marries a showman and ends up in a freak show. Her story is intertwined in alternate chapters with that of Abel, a man who seems to be able to heal from any wound, and ends up in the same show, recovering from knife cuts on stage. This is a magical realism, characters with fantastic secrets that they don't themselves understand.

Eve and Abel are vivid characters, and their strangeness is believable - for both it is the core of their character.

There are some threads of the story that I wanted to hear more about - characters who have enticing hidden stories hinted at that are never fully explored. While Eve and Abel's separate stories are individually engrossing, the relationship between the two, when it happens, feels rather rushed. This is partly because it is overshadowed by their respective relationships with other characters, which are much more strongly drawn - Abel and his friend Alfred, Eve and the Fat Lady Lizzie (who could fill a novel of her own).

But this is a memorable and enjoyable book, a quick dip into a strange and seductive world.
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on 10 June 2014
This book is the tale of lion-lady Eve and the mysterious Abel as they struggle to find out who they are and where they fit in Victorian London.

Things I liked:

-This book is reminiscent of Angela Carter's "Nights at the Circus" and Erin Morgenstern's "The Night Circus" in terms of tone and the slightly magical take on Victorian London. You do feel transported to that world as you read.

- In some places the metaphor is just delectable, almost musical. I found myself sighing over how wonderful the language was, at times.

- Abel: he was an intriguing character who you have sympathy with and worry about, want to know more about. The parts from Abel's point of view were, for me, the most engaging and readable.

Reservations:

- The language is quite dense in places and I wouldn't say it was an easy read. This isnt a bad thing, necessarily, of course, but be prepared to concentrate in parts.

- I found the character development lacking in some places, particularly for Eve. I just don't feel like we got to know her enough, didnt get a sense of who she was or what motivated her. One minute she seems fierce and the next is subjugating herself to Arroner. Obviously, characters can be contradictions within themselves, but I don't feel we got enough insight into what was going on with Eve. Abel and even subsidiary character Lizzie were more compelling to me.

- Overall, I thought the love story was lacking. I wouldn't say I didnt care if they got together but it wasn't the "ahhh" moment I would've liked. This was probably because I never got onside with Eve (see comment above). I more cared about things working out for Abel than anything else.

- The book missed a key climax, in my opinion. The only thing about Eve that moved me was wanting her to turn on Arroner and take her life back. And then the moment she starts to listen to Donkeyskin again and realise she is being used, just when I was hoping for some satisfaction "she lights the match" and.........nothing! It skips past the whole retribution! Denied. It felt like the book was building to that, and then it never happened.

Summary: This is actually a wonderful book, despite the few flaws. Just like "The Night Circus", I feel like the real character was the setting itself, the richly woven world they are living in. Definitely have a read.
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on 1 September 2017
Absolutely loved this book from start to finish. Rosie Garland's lush, flowing prose read beautifully and held her story in my mind as a joy. Couldn't put this down.
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VINE VOICEon 15 May 2013
The Palace of Curiosities is the story of Eve, a woman whose body and face is covered in hair, and of Abel, a man who has difficultly remembering his past and is seemingly unable to be harmed. Both Due to a number of events that take place in the initial stages of the book, Eve and Abel end up being displayed in a Victorian Freak Show. The attitudes they encounter are often harsh and brutal but they are drawn to each other and are able to find some comfort from their friendship.

This book is beautifully written, even the parts which depict very graphic and brutal violence have poignancy about them and I would happily read the book again. The only frustration for me was that there was so much more I wanted to know about these wonderful characters. I would have loved to have learned more about Abel's background and about where the characters went next. It's a rare thing for me to say but I actually wish this book was about 200 pages longer! Nevertheless, I would still recommend it; the prose is to be savoured!
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on 17 November 2015
Very boring
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