Pseudotooth by Verity Holloway – Book Review
Pseudotooth by Varity Holloway – Book Review
Publisher – Unsung Stories
Pages – 416
Release Date – 6th March 2017
ISBN-13 – 978-1907389412
Format – ebook, paperback
Reviewer – Stacey
I received a free copy of this book
The debut novel from Verity Holloway, Pseudotooth is an adult take on ‘portal fantasy’, boldly tackling issues of trauma responses, social difference and our conflicting desires for purity and acceptance.
Aisling Selkirk is a young woman beset by unexplained blackouts, pseudo-seizures that have baffled both the doctors and her family. Sent to recuperate in the Suffolk countryside with ageing relatives, she seeks solace in the work of William Blake and writing her journal, filling its pages with her visions of Feodor, a fiery East Londoner haunted by his family’s history back in Russia.
But her blackouts persist as she discovers a Tudor priest hole and papers from its disturbed former inhabitant Soon after, she meets the enigmatic Chase, and is drawn to an unfamiliar town where the rule of Our Friend is absolute and those deemed unfit and undesirable disappear into The Quiet…Blurring the lines between dream, fiction and reality, Pseudotooth boldly tackles issues of trauma, social difference and our conflicting desires for purity and acceptance, asking questions about those who society shuns, and why.
Pseudotooth is a tale of one teenager’s life living with pseudoseizures, blackouts and strange vivid dreams. It explores the reasons why these episodes occur, and how dreams and problems in the past can cause issues, mentally, in everyday life.
The book opens with seventeen year old Aisling and her mum Beverley, sat in the doctors office whilst he talks about the numerous tests that Aisling has undergone to see if they can find a reason for these episodes. Unfortunately, none came back with any answers. The doctor makes a judgement call, in that the reason could be stress and orders Aisling to take some time out to relax, and maybe a change of scenery would help.
Beverley decides that the best course of action would be to send her daughter off to stay with her elderly aunt Edythe at her home, ‘The Rectory’, where she can get the relaxation she needs. Edythe is a strict woman, but kind too. Also living there is Edythe’s brother. It is he who reveals secrets about the homes past. This though causes Aisling dreams to intensify as she starts incorporating these stories into her dreams, and now they involve her waking life too, when the boy she often dreams about makes an appearance in her daily life, and a young man that she met at the home starts appearing in her dreams.
Pseudotooth I would categorise as a YA book, being that it mainly features young characters. Verity has a writing style that makes the words flow naturally and carries you along without realising how many pages, or how long you have been reading for.
Aisling is a great character, though quite mixed up. I think most people would be put in her situation, suffering from mental trauma, that causes her to have frightening seizures. Her mum Beverley is one self-centred woman, and I really couldn’t take to her. She seemed more important with her life, and reputation, than the issues her daughter was facing.
The plot is unusual, and that’s what hooked me to it, though I don’t feel that the cover of the book does it any favours, and may turn some people off from reading this wonderful story.
Overall the story had plenty of depth to it, interesting characters that you can get involved with, and a plot that will have you racing along, eager to follow Aisling’s story. You’ll be surprised when you realise that this book was written by a debut novelist.
Book reviewed by Stacey
Born in Gibraltar in 1986, I grew up following my Navy family around the world. Always on the move, dealing with the effects of my connective tissue disorder, Marfan syndrome, I found friendly territory in fantasy, history, and Fortean oddities.
In 2007, I graduated from Cambridge’s Anglia Ruskin University with a First Class BA in Literature and Creative Writing. I went on to earn a Distinction Masters in Literature with special focus on Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The House of Life.
My short stories and poems have been variously published. My story Cremating Imelda was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and in 2012 I published my first chapbook, Contraindications. My ‘delightfully weird’ novella, Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs, was released in 2015, and in October 2016 Pen & Sword will publish my first non-fiction book, The Mighty Healer: Thomas Holloway’s Patent Medicine Empire, a biography of my Victorian cousin who made his fortune with questionable remedies.