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The Medea Complex – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

A Plague of Angels by: P. F. Chishom

Book of Ages by: Jill Lepore

Other Books I’m Reading:

American Gods by: Neil Gaiman

 

Almost a month ago I was contacted by Rachel Roberts author of The Medea Complex. Would I review her book honestly, in return for a copy of the book?

Brave woman. We all have our price. Apparently mine is free books.

The Medea Complex is set in the mid 1880’s mostly at Royal Bethlem Hospital which is a mental institution. Anne Stanbury has been sent to Royal Bethlem for killing her three month old son John. Dr. Savage who is director of Royal Bethlem, and a bit of a case himself, is intrigued by the Anne’s condition. Here’s the hook though. He’s pretty sure he can cure her.

Anne’s father Lord Damsbridge is relived that he will eventually be getting his daughter back. Anne’s husband Mr. Edgar Stanbury is not so sure he wants her back. Sure, Edgar needs Anne back as she is the only way he can produce a male heir and get his hands on the Damsbridge fortune. On the other hand Edgar is not sure he wants her back. After all he’s going to have to make sure that she doesn’t kill any future heirs.

The Medea Complex is a dark, and obviously well researched read. I think my biggest hang up was that it does drag in places a bit. However, if you just keep going there are certain to be some airborne bodily fluids, or perhaps some fascinatingly questionable treatments just a few pages ahead. The descriptions are not so much graphic, as they are mentally disturbing. Easily offended readers be warned.

To the good, the plot is interesting and engaging. As a long time reader, I particularly enjoyed the discussion between Dr. Savage and Anne’s mentor Beatrix about how reading books caused Anne’s mental illness. The Medea Complex is not rendered in a look how quaint those silly Victorians were tone, nor is the author writing from sadistic glee. There is a genuine plot twist about two thirds of the way through that will leave you asking yourself if the heroine is totally crazy, or totally sane. Personally I come down on the way way way crazier than anyone gave her credit for side. Although being locked up in Royal Bethlem probably didn’t make that situation worse, or better for that matter.

This is a first novel for Rachel Roberts. I certainly hope she will publish more.

If you would like to explore Rachel’s work:

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Favorite Scene: There’s a phrenologist is the courtroom!!! (Yes, I did need all those exclamation points.)

Favorite Quote: “Books. Women and their books.”

Enjoyability: I’m going four and a half stars out of five. Solidly enjoyable.

Where to read this book: Not someplace dark.

Further reading: Oh I don’t know. I’m suffering from a spring malaise. It is kind of bodice ripper weather around here. You know, tumultuous and yet insipid.

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