The Unsuitable
A fierce blend of Gothic ghost story and Victorian novel of manners that’s also pitch perfect for our current cultural momentIseult Wince is a Victorian woman perilously close to spinsterhood whose distinctly unpleasant father is trying to marry her off. She is awkward, plain, and most pertinently, believes that her mother, who died in childbirth, lives in the scar on her neck. Iseult’s father parades a host of unsuitable candidates before her, the majority of whom Iseult wastes no time frightening away. When at last her father finds a suitor desperate enough to take Iseult off his hands—a man whose medical treatments have turned his skin silver—a true comedy of errors ensues. As history’s least conventional courtship progresses into talk of marriage, Iseult’s mother becomes increasingly volatile and uncontrollable, and Iseult is forced to resort to extreme, often violent, measures to keep her in check. As the day of the wedding nears, Iseult must decide whether (and how) to set the course of her life, with increasing interference from both her mother and father, tipping her ever closer to madness, and to an inevitable, devastating final act.

The Unsuitable Details

TitleThe Unsuitable
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 14th, 2020
PublisherHenry Holt and Co.
ISBN-139781250246288
Rating
GenreHorror, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Gothic

The Unsuitable Review

  • Miranda Reads
    January 1, 1970
    I can't help my addiction...aka here's a video tierlisting all my January Books. Now that you know where this one stands, check out the video to see the rest!The Written Review:This was.... certainly an odd one. Review to come
  • Nenia ❤️️ I hate everything you love ❤️️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    As a single bookworm in her 30s, I feel a special kinship with spinster bluestocking characters.Totally unrelated.
  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    January 1, 1970
    This is quite the interesting read. I'm utterly fascinated with books dealing with mental health and how it was dealt with in history. And as we all know, times have changed drastically in this field. Pohlig brings us Iseult (I STILL can't figure out how to pronounce this so my mind kept pronouncing it a bit differently each time). Iseult lost her mother before she could ever meet her but feels she lives in this scar in her neck as she hears her voice on the daily. The run on sentences in these This is quite the interesting read. I'm utterly fascinated with books dealing with mental health and how it was dealt with in history. And as we all know, times have changed drastically in this field. Pohlig brings us Iseult (I STILL can't figure out how to pronounce this so my mind kept pronouncing it a bit differently each time). Iseult lost her mother before she could ever meet her but feels she lives in this scar in her neck as she hears her voice on the daily. The run on sentences in these internal conversations are HARD to read - it takes some getting used to and to be quite honest, I didn't care for it even after I got used to it. However, I do understand why it was portrayed this way. Madness.Here's the thing - this is more a character read than a plot driven read. Iseult is considered a spinster at her age and her father is trying desperately to marry her off but her "condition" doesn't bode well to make this a proper goal. The hard part is seeing how people treated her because at this time, no one could understand a woman claiming to carry her dead mother with her inside. We get the inside of Iseult and everything she is going through. It's a bit of a tough read at times because of this. Full disclosure, despite the subject matter, this writing style is typically not the kind of book I usually like. I usually need something more plot driven. However, in this case, the continuous grumbling of Iseult and what she has to endure is psychologically fascinating. And that ending, while not unexpected, still gave me pause. What are we actually reading about here? Iseult and her mental illness? Or is her mother truly a part of her and haunting her? I don't even think Iseult truly knows.This book definitely won't be for everybody. I'm so curious what Pohlig will bring us next.
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  • Vonda
    January 1, 1970
    Very darkly disturbing and probably the strangest thing I have ever read! The main characters mother died in childbirth having her, the baby shot out , umblilical cord around her throat and dead. She was saved by the nurse. Years later her deceased mom talks to her and harasses her from the scar. There is very disturbing suicide attempts , self harm and abuse. Her father tries to marry her off to no avail. A man whose skin is silver and comes along and offers to marry her. It's not an easy read Very darkly disturbing and probably the strangest thing I have ever read! The main characters mother died in childbirth having her, the baby shot out , umblilical cord around her throat and dead. She was saved by the nurse. Years later her deceased mom talks to her and harasses her from the scar. There is very disturbing suicide attempts , self harm and abuse. Her father tries to marry her off to no avail. A man whose skin is silver and comes along and offers to marry her. It's not an easy read but an odd, original Victorian ghost novel. It flowed and was a fairly quick read. I recommend it to those that the trigger warnings don't bother.
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  • Tiffany PSquared
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. Will I ever be clear about anything that happened in this book? Hard to say, but it's definitely one that I'll remember. I mean honestly, it's hard to forget about a story where the main character's mother lives in a scar on her neck. After you know that, how can anything else that happens turn out to be good?My overall takeaway from this story is that madness is maddening.
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  • amanda
    January 1, 1970
    WellThis wasa lot of somethings.Im going to just throw a bunch of trigger warnings on it now.Trigger warnings: self mutilation, suicide, blood.This is Gothic Victorian Horror with lots and lots of self mutilation. If you are in any way uncomfortable with that, please do not read any further. Thank you.This is the story of Iselut Wince. A 20 something year old in the Victorian times whose father seeks to find a proper suitor for her.Just a couple of issues.Shes 28 so nun age in those times, her WellThis was…a lot of somethings.I’m going to just throw a bunch of trigger warnings on it now.Trigger warnings: self mutilation, suicide, blood.This is Gothic Victorian Horror with lots and lots of self mutilation. If you are in any way uncomfortable with that, please do not read any further. Thank you.This is the story of Iselut Wince. A 20 something year old in the Victorian times whose father seeks to find a proper suitor for her.Just a couple of issues.She’s 28 so nun age in those times, her father despises her to the point he can’t even look at her, and Iselut’s dead mother lives inside her body.Yes.Quite.Right inside the scar tissue of her neck and Iselut communicates with her quite frequently.Such a happy home. A normal little family.So you see, because of Iseleut’s mother living inside of her and her talking to and then fighting quite a bit this tends to cause issues…People talk and talk leads to rumors and who would want a woman who believes she’s inhabited by a dead corpse married into their family?Desperate to get his crazed daughter out if his house, Mr. Wince has one last resort. He introduces Iselut to a man with silver skin. It is then that Iselut begins to experience something other than obedience for the voice in her head and learns about herself and her own family’s dark past.Obviously, this book is dark. Very, very dark. The main character is literally cutting into her neck every other chapter and it pains me to write that and it pains me to read it. There is a reason why she does it but it does not make it any less unpleasant.I honestly found the emotional treatment of her so much worse. It hurt to see it happen to her. She did absolutely nothing wrong. Yes, she was odd. Yes, she talked to herself but did she deserve this foul treatment. Not at all. I felt that deeply because I’m at this point in my depression where I feel so on the edge that anything could tip me over so at huge moments in the book I had to take deep breaths and walk away.This all played out like a dark fairy tale and read very much like the Brothers Grimm. I’m still sick so I’m not even going to try to go deep diving for some profound meaning or vision but I’m sure there are many! What I got from it mainly was:Be kind to others.Be kind as life is way too harsh and too short already.You never know what anybody has gone through so why make it that much harder.There were some confusing bits in the book. The disjointed voices especially between Iselut and her mother. The pacing was a bit slow in the beginning as well. But overall I enjoyed this read. I wish we got to know more about the other characters besides Iselut and her repulsive father. I really enjoyed the cover. It’s cool! Look at those big Clock Tower esque scissors!This was dark through and through and there was no light but sometimes that’s just how life is. Dark and unforgiving. Grim, a reminder that we don’t always have to listen to that little voice inside of us. Or maybe sometimes we could strain to hear a little bit better.3.5/5Thank you very much to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC. All opinions are my own.Please check out my blog aelilyreads for this review and more like it.
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  • Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
    January 1, 1970
    Now available!A grim tale that you cant look away from yet are afraid to probe too closely, much like a crushed car on the side of the road. Why is it that we cling to the things that scare us? Perhaps mostly because it reminds us that we are still alive, that we are lucky to have survived another day.In The Unsuitable, Iseult is trying her best to survive too. She is twenty-eight and basically a spinster, since her horrible father cant seem to marry her off. And why doesnt anyone feel inclined Now available!A grim tale that you can’t look away from yet are afraid to probe too closely, much like a crushed car on the side of the road. Why is it that we cling to the things that scare us? Perhaps mostly because it reminds us that we are still alive, that we are lucky to have survived another day.In The Unsuitable, Iseult is trying her best to survive too. She is twenty-eight and basically a spinster, since her horrible father can’t seem to marry her off. And why doesn’t anyone feel inclined to ask for her hand? Well, she comes off as quite mad, claiming that her dead mother lives in the scar in her neck.The story is told from Iseult’s perspective, and she is unusual to say the least. She is constantly at battle with the voice in her head and its demands on her, at times supportive and at others abusive, gaslighting her into thinking or acting certain ways. She attributes the voice to her mother, a woman she never knew. Beyond that, or perhaps because of it, she has many dark thoughts and is constantly self-harming. I loved the way Iseult conversed with her mother—their unpunctuated dialogue takes some getting used to, but it was wonderfully evocative and carved each of the characters very clearly for me, even though Iseult is really the only tangible character.The real question of the book though: is Iseult mad or does some piece of her deceased mother truly live inside her? Is this a ghost story or one that exemplifies the crushing weight and expectation that was placed on women in the Victorian age? I like to think it is both, in the same way that it maneuvers between dark satire and true horror. Pohlig’s writing is immediate, painting each scene with striking clarity, but it is also beautiful enough to savor. I look forward to reading more of her work.This is a masterful novel, contemplating themes of mental health and the perceived role of women. Iseult is a wonderfully complex character, and I loved getting inside her dark and unstable mind.My thanks to Henry Holt for my advance copy of this book to read and review.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    **Trigger warning: self-harm, cutting, suicide**Iseult Wince is awkward and plain. Her dad is determined to marry her off, but Iseult keeps running them off. Her mother died in childbirth and Iseult believes that she lives in the scar on her neck, a scar that is a constant reminder of her part in her mothers death. When her father finally finds her a suitor that will marry her, her mother becomes more vocal and violent and drives Iseult to do the unthinkable.Iseult is probably the most **Trigger warning: self-harm, cutting, suicide**Iseult Wince is awkward and plain. Her dad is determined to marry her off, but Iseult keeps running them off. Her mother died in childbirth and Iseult believes that she lives in the scar on her neck, a scar that is a constant reminder of her part in her mother’s death. When her father finally finds her a suitor that will marry her, her mother becomes more vocal and violent and drives Iseult to do the unthinkable.Iseult is probably the most interesting character that I have encountered in a while. She’s very shy and self-conscious and unable to function on most days. You can’t help but feel bad for her though. She was raised by her father who despised her and never had a female role model. It’s sad that Mrs. Pennington, her housemaid, didn’t try to teach her more. I do blame her father for that. I believe that Mrs. Pennington was afraid of him. His words toward Iseult angered me and I can see how she would fear him. Jacob Vinke is the sweet gentleman who agrees to marry Iseult. Although his skin is silver due to a treatment for a skin condition, he is still kind and thoughtful. He has lived shunned by society like Iseult, but has handled it much better, possibly because he has both parents who have helped him. I really liked Jacob. I think he really liked Iseult and he treated her so well. He never talked down to her or made comments about her odd behavior. The ending has a shocking twist and a sad outcome. It wasn’t rushed though. The scenes played out and explained many things.The only issue I had with the book, and I hope it gets fixed before final printing, is the conversations between Iseult and her mother. The dialog was choppy with no punctuations. It really made it hard to read. I do like how the author changed the font during the conversations so the reader knew who was talking. (Advanced Reader Copy courtesy of Net Galley)
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  • CloudOfThoughts_Books Keirstin
    January 1, 1970
    The Unsuitable by author Molly Pohlig is so far a GREAT fiction! I will update review in full closer to release date. The Unsuitable releases next year in April! Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an arc copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Addie BookCrazyBlogger
    January 1, 1970
    Im a huge fan of horror movies but I feel like this book takes horror to a brand new level. I genuinely couldnt tell if I was dealing with a possession, a ghost or a really bad case of schizophrenia. Iseult is a Victorian age spinster (28) who lives at home, claiming that her mother lives in her neck. Her mother allegedly died via childbirth when the inexperienced midwife pulled Iseult out by her feet, causing Iseults collarbone to snap inside and her mother to bleed to death. Her father despise I’m a huge fan of horror movies but I feel like this book takes horror to a brand new level. I genuinely couldn’t tell if I was dealing with a possession, a ghost or a really bad case of schizophrenia. Iseult is a Victorian age spinster (28) who lives at home, claiming that her mother lives in her neck. Her mother allegedly died via childbirth when the inexperienced midwife pulled Iseult out by her feet, causing Iseult’s collarbone to snap inside and her mother to bleed to death. Her father despise this child and lives to see her married off. Iseult, in a desperate attempt to quell the constant speaking of her mother inside her head, continually self-injures herself. Things come to a peak when Iseult is to be married off to a man with silver skin. I genuinely have no idea what in the Sam Hill I just read. It honestly didn’t really feel like much of a story to me. I felt like I was just reading about a girl who kept hurting herself but it doesn’t delve into the psychology behind that or delve deeper into Beatrice’s story or her father’s story. It was just about pain. So if you like stories that feature lots of blood and barely any plot, then this is the story for you!
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  • Mary Proietti
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderfully dark and unique novel that keeps you in suspense and ends with a bang!
  • Mitra (mitra_bookish_girl)
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you HenryHolt USA for sending me the E-ARC of this book via Net-Galley in exchange for an honest review..Iseult is a 28 years old Victorian girl, who believes that the ghost of her mother lives in her neck, her father despises her for her odd behavior and for being a laughingstock in the society, he is trying to marry her off but Iseult always frightens away her Unsuitable suitors. In her mind Iseult keeps talking to her mother who always confuses her and makes her do things that Iseult Thank you HenryHolt USA for sending me the E-ARC of this book via Net-Galley in exchange for an honest review..Iseult is a 28 years old Victorian girl, who believes that the ghost of her mother lives in her neck, her father despises her for her odd behavior and for being a laughingstock in the society, he is trying to marry her off but Iseult always frightens away her Unsuitable suitors. In her mind Iseult keeps talking to her mother who always confuses her and makes her do things that Iseult hates. Iseult tries to stop her mother from confusing and disturbing her by inflicting self harm, she uses pins and knives and scissors to physically wound herself. Her behavior is more of a mentally I'll person than a haunted one. Her house keeper Mrs. Pennington is the only person who takes care of her and who truly loves her.When Iseult's father Mr. Wince finally finds a best match for her in Mr. Jacob, who has silver skin due to some skin disease, their wedding is arranged. Iseult has only two choices available to her, marry Jacob or go to convent/asylum. She choses to marry. But her mother Beatrice's ghost becomes frantic and starts physically harming her. And on her wedding day Isuelt makes a decision that ends in a tragedy..Told from Iseult's point of view, it was a very grim and dark story. It is a little slow paced but well written in terms that it is focused on the character's mental health and behavior, its consequences, and its effects on the people around. Iseult's self-harming behavior is quite disturbing and nauseating. But I can't help but pity her and feel sorry for her because she hasn't done anything wrong, instead, others wronged her and pressurised her into things she didn't want. And her end was really tragic. Her story reflects on the status of women in the Victorian Era and how they were treated. And in my opinion her story is basically about the mental illness and extreme anxiety and how this all affects a person's life and the lives of the people around them.I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes to read dark stories and the stories that deal with mental health issues..Trigger warnings ; Self-harm, blood, suicide.
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  • Natasja | natasjalovesbooks
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 starsThis was a weird book. I couldn't really get into it. The premise excited me (a gory blend of Gothic fiction and a Victorian novel of manners, yes please), which is why I said yes when I was approached to review it, but I was ultimately disappointed by it. The characters were very underdeveloped and the story felt stretched. This could probably have been a really interesting novella, but as a novel, it was just way too long as nothing much actually happened. This is pretty much just the 2.5 starsThis was a weird book. I couldn't really get into it. The premise excited me (a gory blend of Gothic fiction and a Victorian novel of manners, yes please), which is why I said yes when I was approached to review it, but I was ultimately disappointed by it. The characters were very underdeveloped and the story felt stretched. This could probably have been a really interesting novella, but as a novel, it was just way too long as nothing much actually happened. This is pretty much just the story of a woman that self-harms a lot (described in gory details) and believes that her mother lives in the scar on her neck. Nothing is ever really explained, there is no delving into the psychological aspects of Iseult's problems, and I have no idea what was actually going on throughout this story. The ending (and the slight twist) didn't surprise me and actually annoyed me a little bit. The writing was pretty good, though. Fans of horror stories might enjoy this book for what it is, but it wasn't really for me in the end. I received a copy of this book by Henry Holt & Co in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Adrienne
    January 1, 1970
    Unnerving. Unsettling. Strange. Grim. Bloody. Elegant. Disturbing. Delicate. Macabre. x28 year old Iseult believes her dead mother (who she killed) lives in the gruesome scar on her neck. This unusual and strange and twisted story is not for the faint of heart. It deals heavily with grief, eating disorders, depression, personality disorders, and much more. (This is not a tale of healing or happily ever afters.) For me, this tale ticks all of the boxes for a classic psychological Victorian gothic Unnerving. Unsettling. Strange. Grim. Bloody. Elegant. Disturbing. Delicate. Macabre. x28 year old Iseult believes her dead mother (who she killed) lives in the gruesome scar on her neck. This unusual and strange and twisted story is not for the faint of heart. It deals heavily with grief, eating disorders, depression, personality disorders, and much more. (This is not a tale of healing or happily ever afters.) For me, this tale ticks all of the boxes for a classic psychological Victorian gothic story. And the cover is perfect! Someone call Guillermo and tell him to get the adaptation started. Thank you Allison at Henry Holt for sending me the eARC!
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  • Caryn - iam.caryn
    January 1, 1970
    I grew up loving gothic ghost stories. Its basically the number one genre in my heart. Books containing stories like this are few and far between, so I was itching to read this.Im sad to say that the writing of The Unsuitable didnt click with me. It was a bit choppy and felt incomplete. I had to DNF it because it wasnt holding my attention. I grew up loving gothic ghost stories. It’s basically the number one genre in my heart. Books containing stories like this are few and far between, so I was itching to read this.I’m sad to say that the writing of The Unsuitable didn’t click with me. It was a bit choppy and felt incomplete. I had to DNF it because it wasn’t holding my attention.
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Creepy and atmospheric, this claustrophobic look at mental illness was surprisingly chilling. She had always loved sleeping and couldnt understand people who didnt. It was all of the best things about being dead, but without its permanence. What an unusual story! The Unsuitable is one of those books that blurs the line I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Creepy and atmospheric, this claustrophobic look at mental illness was surprisingly chilling. She had always loved sleeping and couldn’t understand people who didn’t. It was all of the best things about being dead, but without its permanence. What an unusual story! The Unsuitable is one of those books that blurs the line between mental illness and the supernatural, so the reader is never really sure whether the main character is simply unstable, or if the horrifying event that she’s experiencing is real. I also want to mention up front that this book includes elements of self harm and suicide that may be triggering to some readers, so do proceed with caution if those things bother you.Iseult Wince is a twenty-eight year old spinster, still living at home with her verbally abusive father. Her mother Beatrice died in childbirth when Iseult was born, when an incompetent midwife yanked her out by her feet, breaking the baby’s collarbone in the process. Iseult has lived her entire life in black garments, as her father insists on mourning his wife, even twenty-eight years later. But Mr. Wince has had enough: he’s eager to marry his daughter off and rid himself of her for good, but who will have her?Iseult, you see, has a problem. She believes her mother’s ghost is living in the horrible scar on her neck, the scar from her traumatic birth. Beatrice and Iseult have conversations which only Iseult can hear, but often Iseult is so distressed over her mother’s words that she blurts her half of the conversation out loud. This has led to many embarrassing moments for Mr. Wince and the family housekeeper, Mrs. Pennington, and is the main reason why Iseult is still not married. Even worse, Iseult has discovered that she can silence her mother’s overbearing voice by inflicting harm on herself, mostly in the form of jabbing at her scar with pins and scissors.And now, a potential husband has been found, a man named Jacob with odd, silver skin, who is otherwise a perfect match. This is Iseult’s chance to finally get out from under the oppressing rule of her father, but is that what she really wants? As the arranged wedding draws near, Iseult must come to terms with her one chance at happiness. That is, if Beatrice doesn't ruin things for her. . .I absolutely loved the Victorian setting in The Unsuitable , and I thought it was the perfect time period for such an unsettling, creepy story. It turns out that mental illness among Victorian era women wasn’t that uncommon, what with all the pressures and expectations heaped on them. Women didn’t have any rights and had very little choice in anything, including who they would marry, when they would marry, what they could wear, etc. Whether or not Iseult’s mother was actually a ghost or not is never explained, but it made sense that the only bit of control she had over her circumstances was self-harm, as horrible as that seems. And I loved Iseult’s character. She’s been living her entire life with the guilt of having caused her mother’s death, and she truly believes that her mother is still with her. She’s trapped in a house full of secrets and tragedy with no way out, so it’s no wonder she’s mentally unstable.Molly Pohlig’s writing has an almost poetic quality to it at times, which added to the overall eeriness of the story. Not a lot actually happens in The Unsuitable, but Pohlig’s ability to create tension through all the little, unnerving events added a wonderful feeling of suspense. The slow pace might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I actually loved the author’s careful build-up of odd elements over the course of the story, like watching a train wreck in slow motion.The real tragedy of Iseult’s life isn’t that she’s seemingly crazy. It’s the fact that everyone in her family is horrible. Mr. Wince is one of the meanest characters I’ve ever run across. He hates his daughter and wants nothing more than to be rid of her, and his verbal abuse was both shocking and terribly sad. He’s made Iseult dress in black her entire life (in mourning for her dead mother), and it’s only when Jacob enters the scene that he finally relaxes this rule. He tells Iseult that he wished she’d been the one to die instead of Beatrice, and he even tells her he’s tried to send her to a convent. And then you have Beatrice, or what Iseult imagines Beatrice to be. The conversations between the two are manic, and Beatrice flip flops between adoration toward Iseult and hatred. She is constantly trying to convince Iseult to make amends with her father, so that the “three” of them can live together, happily ever after. Once Iseult meets Jacob and imagines an actual future for herself, she finally starts to believe that she would be better off without Beatrice. This ongoing war between the two, with the actions of the horrible Mr. Wince thrown into the mix, were some of the most chilling scenes in the book.The only person who makes Iseult’s life somewhat bearable is the housekeeper, Mrs. Pennington. Mrs. Pennington is used to covering up blood stains (from Iseult’s mad rampages on her body) and you can tell she cares about Iseult. But she’s also caught in the middle between Iseult and her father, which isn’t a good place to be. Everything in the story leads up to the main event—the wedding—and by that time the tension is nearly unbearable. I don’t usually like ambiguous endings, but this time it worked. Readers who love a creepy, Gothic story and don’t need everything wrapped up neatly at the end will really enjoy this, and I look forward to reading more by this talented author.Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    Whee! This was weird and super gross and also kind of hilarious in a way that made me feel a little guilty for laughing yet unable to stop myself. Labeling this book gothic horror is a bit misleading. Its a good deal more visceral than standard gothic. Stabbing oneself in the neck with sewing scissors is a good deal more, um, modern in its brand of horror than the typical Creepy Thing Stalking Around in Attic motif of the genre. Still, thats a publishers error, as I dont think the author intend Whee! This was weird and super gross and also kind of hilarious in a way that made me feel a little guilty for laughing yet unable to stop myself. Labeling this book gothic horror is a bit misleading. It’s a good deal more visceral than standard gothic. Stabbing oneself in the neck with sewing scissors is a good deal more, um, modern in its brand of horror than the typical Creepy Thing Stalking Around in Attic motif of the genre. Still, that’s a publisher’s error, as I don’t think the author intend to write a straight gothic horror novel, but rather to play on the tropes of the genre to put together something more unique. Weird and oft icky as this was, I enjoyed it and found the slightly wry tone to be an amusing counterbalance to the gory breed of violence involved.Fair warning: I didn’t find the violence in this to be of an upsetting nature, but I don’t recommend this book if you have a self harm trigger, as some form of it takes place in nearly every chapter. *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Anita Fajita Pita
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. I mean it. I loved this book.Let me start by stating clearly that this book can't possibly be for everyone. There is explicit self harm. Cringey, bloody, snippy self harm. The kind that makes the reader grit their teeth and look away from the page, before obviously turning back to the wreckage with shamelessly eager eyes. Very well written. Explicit. Notice the gorgeous sewing scissors on the cover.Now that that's done, let me delve right in. Iseult is an awkward Victorian spinster - I Wow. I mean it. I loved this book.Let me start by stating clearly that this book can't possibly be for everyone. There is explicit self harm. Cringey, bloody, snippy self harm. The kind that makes the reader grit their teeth and look away from the page, before obviously turning back to the wreckage with shamelessly eager eyes. Very well written. Explicit. Notice the gorgeous sewing scissors on the cover.Now that that's done, let me delve right in. Iseult is an awkward Victorian spinster - I mean, unmarried at 28?! - of passable social standing. Her father owns a steel mill or some such business inherited through his nuptials to Beatrice, Iseult's dearly departed mum - she bled to death after the traumatic birth of Iseult. In fact, this one event has shaped Iseult's entire life. Her entire being, because her broken collarbone not only tore her mother as she was dragged out, resulting in the aforementioned death, but it is also the wound within which her mother lives.Iseult is haunted by Beatrice.If you haven't already ticked off all of your Victorian gothic horror boxes, let us introduce the requisite romantic storyline as a parade of unsuitable and unwanted marriage prospects. Old, ugly, rude, she meets them all - Iseult's father wishes for nothing more than to marry her off and be free of the burden of her, and Iseult, in all of her instability, just wants to be left alone. Her one shining light in life is the oft-harrassed Mrs. Pennington, who dutifully attends to Iseult's needs and tries to prevent as much self-harm as possible by hiding her tools of infliction - everything from hatpins to scissors is spirited away under Mrs. Pennington's watchful eyes. Otherwise, she's the one who cleans the wounds and washes the blood from various surfaces and clothing. It doesn't help that her father is increasingly fed up with her and uses dinner conversation as a daily opportunity to insult her."I didn't believe you were truly ill, but now I can see that you were." Mr. Wince's mustache twitched in anticipation of a direct hit as he spread his napkin in his lap with exquisite care. "Your pallor, my dear, is simply cadaverous."This being said after a days-long, bedridden breakdown of Iseult's.Finally, Iseult gets her last chance match with someone she finds more repugnant than herself, Jacob, of the silver skin. While Iseult battles her increasingly hostile mother's voice inside her mind and body, Jacob's oddity is written on his skin. Literally. And her father makes it very clear that this is it for her. She cannot get out of this one and woe be to her if she ruins it like all the rest. Iseult can't help that her internal struggles sometimes slip out into noticeably physical twitches. She's got a reputation around the town. So she doesn't quite settle into acceptance, but tries to get to know Jacob with as much eagerness as is expected. That is to say, barely any.She had been hoping this marriage could be conducted on an entirely formal level, with as much distance and chilliness as possible.Iseult herself is quite funny. She has the dark and macabre humor of someone who has no say in their life. She is the Victorian maiden, with Victorian maidenly concerns.Truth be told, it was a small tart that Iseult had had her eye on, and only one such tart had been brought. There were two people at the table; why not bring two of everything?Not only is she bound by her social standing as an unwed woman in her father's home, she is controlled by the screeching voice of her mother in her head - never getting a moment's respite, amd she struggles to seperate her thoughts from Beatrice's as she tries to navigate the already treacherous waters of Victorian courtship. Her self-harming is her effort to silence Beatrice. The farther along her relationship with Jacob goes, the more volatile Beatrice becomes, and the more desperate Iseult grows for some silence in her own head. The growing hostility and violent attacks of Beatrice is a constant back and forth between wondering if Iseult is suffering from mental illness or a haunting. No matter which idea the reader settles on, the atmosphere grows considerably and consistently more tense, just as I imagine the constant humming of Beatrice within Iseult's head grows more and more unbearable. Perhaps it's one or the other, perhaps it's both, but it grows with Iseult's terror as she marches toward the unknown future of an unhappily wedded woman.There was a group of black-clad men waiting for a funeral? No, for her wedding. Or yes for her wedding.Either way, I absolutely loved the intricacy of this Victorian tale. Absolutely recommend to fans of gothic horror, Victorian dramas, Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson. Not only for content and genre, but quality of writing. I am eagerly awaiting future books by Molly Pohlig.Let me also state my grateful thanks to the publisher, Henry Holt and Co., for gifting me an e-copy of this through Netgalley. Disclaimer, disclaimer, trust me - this in no way affected my opinion of the book.
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  • Becki (millerreads)
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book from Henry Holt Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.At 28, Iseult Wince is still unmarried and a burden to her cruel father who ensures on a regular basis that she is very much aware of that fact. He has on multiple occasions attempted to rectify this by bringing various suitors to their home, but invariably, Iseult runs them off, many times by having audible conversations with her dead mother - who she believes lives within the scar upon her neck. I received an ARC of this book from Henry Holt Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.At 28, Iseult Wince is still unmarried and a burden to her cruel father who ensures on a regular basis that she is very much aware of that fact. He has on multiple occasions attempted to rectify this by bringing various suitors to their home, but invariably, Iseult runs them off, many times by having audible conversations with her dead mother - who she believes lives within the scar upon her neck. This mother-daughter relationship is by no means a pleasant one, and Iseult employs various methods of shutting her mother up so she may have moments of peace. At his wit’s end, Mr Wince finds an eligible suitor in a man just as desperate due to his skin being silver in color from medical treatments. As the wedding day draws nearer, her mother becomes increasingly temperamental, driving Iseult to drastic measures. Just how far will she have to go to rid herself of her dead mother?I absolutely loved this dark, twisty, gothic tale. It is so smartly written that even through the smallest details, the reader is unsettled by this story. I physically winced (no pun intended) multiple times as I read about the methods Iseult employed to quiet her mother. I wouldn’t call myself a squeamish person, but these acts were so well described, there was audible gasping. While those are very extreme acts to visualize, the dark tone permeates so thoroughly throughout the story in things as simple as descriptions of food to the astonishing history of Iseult’s maternal relatives. This all sounds very macabre, but there were spots of levity, even if they were also darkly comedic.The format took some getting used to, but that could be because I was reading an e-copy vs. the physical book, making it more difficult to differentiate. The conversations between Iseult and her mother do not use traditional grammatical/editorial approaches in terms of punctuation, capitalization, italics, etc. Once I got the handle for it, it didn’t bother me, and I was able to understand the intended effect of these sort of stream of conscious, frenzied exchanges between mother and daughter.This was just such a smart story. It is by no means for the faint of heart, but if you are a fan of Victorian gothic novels, I highly recommend this one. Bravo to this debut author for creating something so incredibly unique. 5 stars.
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  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    This is a story about a young woman whose mother lives in her neck. Thats actually how the author herself pithily described the book in her afterword. But, obviously, theres more to the story than that. The thing is, though, not that much more. In fact, it probably would have made a much more potent short story or a novella. On the novel canvas, it seems somewhat stretched out quite thin. The young woman does indeed have her mother with her at all times as it were in a most unusual fashion of a This is a story about a young woman whose mother lives in her neck. That’s actually how the author herself pithily described the book in her afterword. But, obviously, there’s more to the story than that. The thing is, though, not that much more. In fact, it probably would have made a much more potent short story or a novella. On the novel canvas, it seems somewhat stretched out quite thin. The young woman does indeed have her mother with her at all times as it were in a most unusual fashion of a voice emanating from a childhood collarbone injury, resulting in, quite literally insults added to injury. To deal with both the young woman frequently resorts to self mutilation.There isn’t much she can do otherwise, for these is a proper gothic novel, wherein the ladies are delicate and fairly useless and are treated as such. At 28, Iseult is nearly a spinster, considered too odd by many and combined with natural pickiness, she has no one in her life but a distant, emotionally abusive father and a kindhearted servant. The catalyst for the novel comes when a plausible suitor is finally found, a lovely young man with silver skin. Yes, silver skin, because, you know, disembodied voices of long dead mothers aren’t enough. So the wedding plans are on the way, the drama gets heightened as changes are wont to do and once the family secrets start getting revealed, it’s curtains. Morbid ending as expected. Interesting novel, but didn’t quite work for me. Took a while to get into, the first chapter is actually fairly offputting in the same way incessant disembodied voices can be. The dead mother is no delight, but then again neither is Isuelt herself and that’s much more significant, because the entire novel rests on her delicate lady shoulders. In fact, the only genuinely likeable character is the silver skinned suitor. The story seemed quite thin somehow, not enough meat, mostly bones…then again that’s pretty appropriate for a gothic genre. Some things worked well, the atmosphere held up nicely and the father was as evil and horrid as an evil horrid father figure can be. The writing was quite good. The pacing, once you get used to the inner dialogues, sped along nicely. And the ending was very effective. So something of a mixed bag. Fans of gothic fiction should get some enjoyment out of this one. It was a very quick read for the page count, but didn’t quite engage. Some readers, certainly, should find this one more suitable than others. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Lora - questsandcrimes
    January 1, 1970
    Iseult Wince is a 28 year old Victorian woman who is on the verge of being labelled a spinster. Her horrible father has been trying to marry her off, but unsuccessfully. Iseult is not normal. She believes her dead mother lives in the scar on her neck that she received when she was born/her mother died. Mr. Wince has finally found a candidate for Iseult to marry who cant refuse. However, he is silver. All of his skin...silver.This book was weird and wonderful.. First, a VERY heavy trigger warning Iseult Wince is a 28 year old Victorian woman who is on the verge of being labelled a spinster. Her horrible father has been trying to marry her off, but unsuccessfully. Iseult is not normal. She believes her dead mother lives in the scar on her neck that she received when she was born/her mother died. Mr. Wince has finally found a candidate for Iseult to marry who can’t refuse. However, he is silver. All of his skin...silver.This book was weird and wonderful.. First, a VERY heavy trigger warning for self harm. It’s everywhere in this book and if that’s a problem for you don’t read it. I actually never get squeamish, and this book had me leaning away from the page. I will say that the author did a fantastic job of explaining why Iseult uses self harm. Through graphic and extreme it did not feel like it was done for shock value, which is a refreshing change. Iseult’s relationship with her new silver fiancé is hilarious. She’s been shut up her entire life, so interaction with people in general is hard. So, when she’s in situations causing her to interact with her fiancé, she gets super flustered. It’s great.My big negative is the interactions between Iseult and her mother are done in chunks with no grammar rules whatsoever. I really struggled with these sections if there was more than a sentence. I get the concept of what was trying to be done with mind-speak...but I didn’t enjoy. I am clearly not the queen of grammar (or spelling), but sometimes I remember punctuation. So here’s my last pitch: if Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino starting making sad/funny/bloody/haunted Victorian films together, I’d want them to adapt this book. I’d also want it to be a musical but that’s just me.
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  • Rebeca
    January 1, 1970
    I received an early e-copy from the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.CW: self harm, suicide.Rating: TBD I always love the beginning of a book. The first line that will welcome me into a new a world and the first three lines from The Unsuitable, though, intrigued me into reading more of it. This is not the kind of book I would usually pick for myself to read but I thought it would be nice to give this one a try! The Unsuitable is a story about Iseult, a 28 year old who lives I received an early e-copy from the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.CW: self harm, suicide.Rating: TBD I always love the beginning of a book. The first line that will welcome me into a new a world and the first three lines from The Unsuitable, though, intrigued me into reading more of it. This is not the kind of book I would usually pick for myself to read but I thought it would be nice to give this one a try! The Unsuitable is a story about Iseult, a 28 year old who lives with her father. Her mother died when Iseult was born and ever since she was little, she has been hearing her mother’s voice in her head. Iseult blames herself for her mother’s death.As soon as I read the first chapter I got chills. This was definitely a dark story that deals with heavy topics like self harm and suicide. Even though I read this book in two days, there were times when I just had to stop reading for a while and would later come back to read more.My least favorite character from the story was Iseult’s father, the only thing he wanted to accomplish throughout the story was to get rid of her daughter. He was always looking for potential suitors for his daughter, not really caring at all if she approved of them, he only wanted to be the one who would get something out of it, but Iseult always made it impossible for him.Iseult was tormented by her mother’s voice and while she sometimes didn’t want to listen to her anymore, there were other times when she appreciated knowing that she was there... Overall, The Unsuitable was an intriguing story with secrets and twists that I didn’t see coming at all. It was impossible for me to know what would happen next.
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  • Kami's Korner
    January 1, 1970
    "Why must pain be painful? Why couldn't it be soothing instead?" _ The UnsuitableI am no stranger to gothic horror. But let's be honest, if you tend to read in a specific genre and furthermore a specific sub-genre after awhile they all kinda sound the same. Maybe I am a book prude now? Perhaps as my decent into horror becomes more refined it takes more and more to impress me? THIS IS THE NEW HORROR.I absolutely loved everything about this novel! It was beautifully tragic, incredibly raw and "Why must pain be painful? Why couldn't it be soothing instead?" _ The UnsuitableI am no stranger to gothic horror. But let's be honest, if you tend to read in a specific genre and furthermore a specific sub-genre after awhile they all kinda sound the same. Maybe I am a book prude now? Perhaps as my decent into horror becomes more refined it takes more and more to impress me? THIS IS THE NEW HORROR.I absolutely loved everything about this novel! It was beautifully tragic, incredibly raw and heartbreaking; but Iseult Wince has my complete heart. This was honestly the best gothic horror since Susan Hill's, The Woman in Black.It eloquently pairs the 19th century Victorian gothic with this eerie modern day feel that is both relatable and inviting. This certainly isn't for the faint of heart. It is a self-mutilating, bloody, messy, vividly raw with suicidal tendencies. If this is the real-life horror people live with, then this is what nightmares are made of. "Iseult realized that actual madness would be to live by the rules the rest of the world. She just had to be careful and quiet and she could make herself like one of them. At least enough to pass."_ The Unsuitable.I was invested in its character's no matter how heinous and awful some may have been. I loved way this story flowed and captivated me. I devoured this and although the length was perfect I wanted more of this world I entered. I was so easily able to visualize the setting, the outfits, the instruments of destruction, the expressions. This was like a satisfying 7 course meal for gothic horror. Esther Wane was a perfect choice and I would highly recommend the audio version of this amazing book. But hell, while your at it pick up a copy of the book because I can guarantee if you are a fan of gothic horror, you'll want to pick this up again and again! My favorite of the year so far! Superb debut by Molly Pohlig!
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  • Kirsty ~ Paper Hearts Ink
    January 1, 1970
    Well, that was... like nothing Ive read before. I should start by saying that this book is not an easy read. Huge trigger warning for self-harm, bloody scenes, and suicide. Im not sure that Ive ever read a book quite so graphic. That being said it really was a fascinating read. I do like books that tackle mental health issues and this one does it brilliantly. Iseult was so likeable but incredibly unwell. Her relationship with her father was difficult and I really empathised with Iseult. What a Well, that was... like nothing I’ve read before. I should start by saying that this book is not an easy read. Huge trigger warning for self-harm, bloody scenes, and suicide. I’m not sure that I’ve ever read a book quite so graphic. That being said it really was a fascinating read. I do like books that tackle mental health issues and this one does it brilliantly. Iseult was so likeable but incredibly unwell. Her relationship with her father was difficult and I really empathised with Iseult. What a horrid man. The dynamic between them was very well written.I enjoyed her relationship with Mrs Pennington, it was really touching in places. We spend a lot of time inside Iseult’s head where she talks to her dead mother, Beatrice and this was incredibly well done. I applaud the author for her genius here. It was a very dark story throughout and quite disturbing but I couldn’t put it down! I really was rushing to the end to see how Iseult’s story would pan out. An unsettling but fantastic read.Many thanks to the publisher for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Rochelle Hickey
    January 1, 1970
    The Unsuitable was a creative read. It was enjoyable as a gothic novel but the suspense was slightly lacking.The troubles that occur for Iseult very slowly grow throughout the novel but never feel dire even if it should. Her mother, who is a ghost in her collarbone (easiest way to describe it), physically manifests harm to Iseult but only in small threats that most of the time no one else knows about. Iseult does more harm to herself trying to get her mother to stop than her mothers harm does to The Unsuitable was a creative read. It was enjoyable as a gothic novel but the suspense was slightly lacking.The troubles that occur for Iseult very slowly grow throughout the novel but never feel dire even if it should. Her mother, who is a ghost in her collarbone (easiest way to describe it), physically manifests harm to Iseult but only in small threats that most of the time no one else knows about. Iseult does more harm to herself trying to get her mother to stop than her mothers harm does to her. I think an added suspense would have been if this occurred with outsiders as witness as she already has a shaky reputation that trying to find a husband would have been even more of a challenge. Her father threatens to send her to an insane asylum but the threat always feels empty like he’s used that excuse before and nothing ever goes beyond that.I love that Jacob, her eventual fiancé, is literally silver due to a medical condition making him an outcast to society as well. It makes the two of them a strange yet perfect match.In all it was a fun read.Thank you to Henry Holt and Company for an advanced copy for my honest and unbiased opinion.
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  • Delara
    January 1, 1970
    Damn. This book is dark. I mean, it's dark, kids. It's a literary Victorian gothic horror with CW of self-harm, gore, and suicide. And know what? I enjoyed the hell out of it. I haven't read this level of body horror for a while, so yes, I cringed every time, it's written so, so well. I wanted to hug Mrs Pennington, the housekeeper, for being so supportive, and then shake my fist at Iseult's bastard of a father for being so awful.Yep, 28yo Iseult is haunted by the ghost of her mother (who lives Damn. This book is dark. I mean, it's dark, kids. It's a literary Victorian gothic horror with CW of self-harm, gore, and suicide. And know what? I enjoyed the hell out of it. I haven't read this level of body horror for a while, so yes, I cringed every time, it's written so, so well. I wanted to hug Mrs Pennington, the housekeeper, for being so supportive, and then shake my fist at Iseult's bastard of a father for being so awful.Yep, 28yo Iseult is haunted by the ghost of her mother (who lives in the scar in her neck), which makes her unsuitable for marrying off. That is, until her jerky dad finds someone perfect for her, another outsider: a man with silver skin. Despite the book's dark tones and themes, the silver man was a light, a beacon of hope for Iseult's future. I leave you to read the book to see how that goes.Thank you to the publisher for the e-ARC!
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  • Kirsty
    January 1, 1970
    (Advanced readers copy from the publisher via net gallery) A disturbing and daring debut. Iseult is the most disturbed character in a Gothic novel in history. The feel of the book is a cross between Ibsens The Doll House and Henry James The Turn of the screw. The novel did seem a little uneven at the start but it made up for it by being full of surprises towards the end. Not an easy read in subject matter or plot. An interesting new voice to the world of historical fiction, may Pohlig continue (Advanced readers copy from the publisher via net gallery) A disturbing and daring debut. Iseult is the most disturbed character in a Gothic novel in history. The feel of the book is a cross between Ibsen’s ‘The Doll House’ and Henry James’ ‘The Turn of the screw’. The novel did seem a little uneven at the start but it made up for it by being full of surprises towards the end. Not an easy read in subject matter or plot. An interesting new voice to the world of historical fiction, may Pohlig continue to create interesting and more importantly challenging new fiction.
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  • Jocelyn
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the best books I've ever read. It's incredibly disturbing and totally bat shit, but I loved every second of reading it and never wanted to put it down! I take every hat I own (which is only like 5 hats, regrettably) off to Molly Pohlig for creating this glorious nightmare! She's an instant buy for me now. This book is so damn good.
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  • Margaret
    January 1, 1970
    I can't remember ever being so furious at an ending before. It's truly terrible. But I did so enjoy reading all the quirkiness that is Iseult up until then. And then it was ruined.Trigger warnings for self-harm and suicide.
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    This book is so disturbing and elegant and gorgeous. I got so involved that I spoke out loud to Iseult while I cringed at her actions and empathized with her emotions and loved her. Not for the faint of heart, but absolutely worth it.
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