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The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland

The Palace of Curiosities

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As is becoming increasingly popular at the moment, this is a tale of two lives but each narrates their bit separately in alternating chapters. They are Victorian ‘curiosities’ put on show for a morbidly fascinated audience. We follow them separately and then their lives together as they are exploited by the freak show owner. This touches on fantasy for one of them, Abel, is immortal, his freakish party trick – the ability to heal himself. This is a strange little tale beautifully told.


The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland

A luminous and bewitching debut novel that is perfect for fans of Angela Carter. Set in Victorian London, it follows the fortunes of Eve, the Lion-Faced Girl and Abel, the Flayed Man. A magical realism delight. Before Eve is born, her mother goes to the circus. She buys a penny twist of coloured sugar and settles down to watch the heart-stopping main attraction: a lion, billed as a monster from the savage heart of Africa, forged in the heat of a merciless sun. Mama swears she hears the lion sigh, just before it leaps...and when Eve is born, the story goes, she didn't cry - she meowed and licked her paws. When Abel is pulled from the stinking Thames, the mudlarks are sure he is long dead. As they search his pockets to divvy up the treasure, his eyes crack open and he coughs up a stream of black water. But how has he survived a week in that thick stew of human waste? Cast out by Victorian society, Eve and Abel find succour from an unlikely source. They will become The Lion Faced Girl and The Flayed Man, star performers in Professor Josiah Arroner's Palace of Curiosities. And there begins a journey that will entwine their fates forever.


'Garland's lush prose is always a pleasure'

'An alternately brutal and beautiful story about love and belonging in a vividly conveyed underworld, rich in carny phantasmagoria and lyrical romance'


'A jewel-box of a novel ... Garland is a real literary talent: definitely an author to watch'
Sarah Waters

'Reminds me of Angela Carter'
Jenni Murray

About the Author

Born in London to a runaway teenager, Rosie Garland has always been a cuckoo in the nest. She is an eclectic writer and performer, ranging from singing in Goth band The March Violets through touring with the Subversive Stitch exhibition in the 90s, to her current incarnation as Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen, cabaret chanteuse, incomparable compere and electrifying poet. She has published five solo collections of poetry and her award-winning short stories, poems and essays have been widely anthologized. The Palace of Curiosities is her debut novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

26th September 2013


Rosie Garland

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The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


336 pages


Family Drama
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction



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