Review Details

Review type: Book

Title: A Botanical Daughter

Author: Noah Medlock

Publisher: Titan Books

Release date: 19th March 2024

A Botanical Daughter

Reviewed by: Melody Bowles

Other details: Paper back £9.19

A Botanical Daughter by Noah Medlock

Melody Bowles

A Botanical Daughter takes cues from classic botanic horror stories such asThe Flowering of the Strange Orchid by HG Wells and mashes them up with Frankenstein to create a compelling new tale.

In the Victorian era, Gregor and Simon lived together in a botanic garden. Gregor is a disgraced botanist, and Simon is a taxidermist. They are essentially married, but not always happily. Their troubles escalate when Gregor obtains an unusual fungus, which demonstrates unique intelligence. Together, they come up with the idea of making a ‘plant person’. Gregor wants to win back the respect of his peers with a successful new experiment. Simon wants a daughter. They make this plant person by digging up a fresh human corpse and housing the fungus inside it. They call her Chloe. If you think that sounds horrific so far, don’t worry, it gets worse.

The story subverts the popular found family trope found in a lot of queer fiction hard by making said family extremely dysfunctional. Gregor’s experiment essentially corrupts all of the characters into becoming their worst selves. Every time they try to behave like a family unit, disaster beckons.

It’s a gripping tale which includes some intelligent and novel ideas about how plants could work together to create one being. It’s interesting to see the characters interact with each iteration of Chloe. It builds well on the themes already present in Frankenstein, such as ambition, isolation from society and monstrosity.

I like to think I’m pretty hardy when it comes to horror. But the macabre descriptions of Chloe’s innards – a rotting corpse covered with roots, moss and infested with earthworms – were so vivid they actually gave me nightmares. The ending also leaves the reader with some rather haunting final images. I am impressed, so much kudos to the author.

Read A Botanical Daughter for a gruesome Victorian-set tale of utter botanical horror. It’s Triffids-meets-Frankenstein with some twisted romance thrown in for good measure. Fans of classic gothic horror will have a great time.

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