Once a Monster: A reimagining of the legend of the Minotaur
'Robert Dinsdale mixes history and mythology with great panache . . . Richly textured and with an appropriately labyrinthine plot, this is a book that explores the monster inside man — and vice versa. Book of the Month' Sunday Times
London, 1861: Ten-year-old Nell belongs to a crew of mudlarks who work a stretch of the Thames along the Ratcliffe Highway. An orphan since her mother died four years past, leaving Nell with only broken dreams and a pair of satin slippers in her possession, she spends her days dredging up coals, copper and pieces of iron spilled by the river barges – searching for treasure in the mud in order to appease her master, Benjamin Murdstone.
But one day, Nell discovers a body on the shore. It’s not the first corpse she’s encountered, but by far the strangest. Nearly seven feet tall, the creature has matted hair covering his legs, and on his head are the suggestion of horns. Nell’s fellow mudlarks urge her to steal his boots and rifle his pockets, but as she ventures closer the figure draws breath – and Nell is forced to make a decision which will change her life forever . . .
From the critically acclaimed author of The Toymakers comes an imaginative retelling of the legend of the Minotaur, full of myth and magic and steeped in the grime of Victorian London; perfect for lovers of historical fiction with a mythical twist such as Stone Blind and Circe.
Praise for Once A Monster:
'Imaginative mash-up of the mythical with Victorian gothic.' - The Times
'A wonderful magic trick of a story, full of very human monsters and monstrous humans. Dinsdale is a beautiful, evocative story teller. - Stuart Turton, bestselling author of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
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