Pseudotooth by Verity Holloway
Verity Holloway’s poetic eye is superlative in conjuring up sharp images; it is as if you can feel the splinters in Aisling’s fingers and the sharp detritus under her bare feet. With its gorgeous Gothic cover and in the way the narrative evokes a sense of place while dancing along the line of dreams and reality. Verity Holloway is a writer to watch
Starburst, 9/10 review
‘The malaise continues. Today, I begin a rigorous programme of exercise to cleanse body and soul.’
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.
Verity Holloway was born in Gibraltar in 1986, and grew up following her Navy family around the world. She graduated from Cambridge’s Anglia Ruskin University with a First Class BA in Literature and Creative Writing and went on to earn a Distinction Masters in Literature.
Her short stories and poems have been widely published, with her story 'Cremating Imelda' being nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In 2012 she published her first chapbook, Contraindications. Her novella, Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs, was released in 2015. Her first non-fiction book, The Mighty Healer: Thomas Holloway’s Patent Medicine Empire (Pen & Sword), a biography of her Victorian cousin who made his fortune with questionable remedies, was published in 2016. @Verity_Holloway
Pseudotooth is a compassionate fever dream of a book and an achingly beautiful narrative about difference and self-acceptance. Holloway is a conjurer of the beautifully grotesque, an architect of the vivid, who’s writing is so lyrical and evocative it makes your teeth itch.
[Pseudotooth] is a multi-layered novel, one that excels in its use of ideas and with realities like Russian nesting doll sets. This is a book that will reward further reading, a rich tapestry of truth and fiction, with a gratifying wealth of detail to supplement the main story and some excellent characterisation.
– Black Static
Dizzyingly imaginative... Its scope is ambitious, with multiple interlinked plot strands and a vividly-drawn cast of characters shaped in part by their respective pasts. Pseudotooth is one of the most original and immersive novels I've read in a long time.
– Breakfast at Libraries
Holloway’s writing is sure and inventive; her language choices interesting yet clear. I really appreciated that Holloway remained true to the traumas and consequences in Aisling’s life, and that she didn’t give in to the easy fixes. As a reader, I was wholly in tune with Aisling’s character.
– Andromeda Spaceways Magazine
...an unusual fantasy adventure grounded in the dark realities of mental illness and escapist imagination ... a challenging but ultimately worthwhile read.
– Never Imitate
This is a brilliant debut and I'd love to see more books from Verity Holloway.
– S.J. Budd
A wonderful story. A plot that will have you racing along. You’ll be surprised when you realise that this book was written by a debut novelist.
– Whispering Stories
It left me extremely thoughtful about the worlds we live in and the ones we create in our mind, the worlds of the past and those of the present, and which one may be the most accurate representation of human life, if any. The writing was at times brutal, at others extremely beautiful, and I hope we get to see more from Verity Holloway in the future.
– Butterfly Elephant
It was a bit difficult for me to believe that this novel is the work of a debut novelist, because the story flowed effortlessly, the characterisation was excellent and the author dared to explore challenging themes. A deeply compelling and beautifully written novel that readers of literary speculative fiction can't afford to miss.
– Rising Shadow
I thought it was perfect. Not only is there a well-delivered, well-paced story, there are interesting ideas peppered throughout the text that are guaranteed to make you think. If you are looking for something a bit more cerebral than your normal fantasy fiction, then you need look no further.
– The Eloquent Page
It reminded me a lot of some of Michael Cisco’s writing particularly in Celebrant and Animal Money. The themes of trauma and how it can impact a person’s life and the myriad ways in which victimhood is refuted or the ways in which people seek denial keep recurring throughout the story. [Holloway's] writing always clear is nevertheless unusual especially in terms of descriptions that can be at times subtle and at times direct. There are paragraphs which are exquisite in their structure. A very enjoyable read.
– Former People
[Pseudotooth] is rooted in a sense of lived experience. From the overarching, elemental images of fire and water to the size and weight of the tooth as it accrues mass and grisly residue, there is a constant tension between a very English rawness and the esoteric vulnerability of the protagonist. Unique, clever and with a kind of patient compulsion, the novel has a distinctive voice that finds beauty in despair.
– Andrew Wallace
Pseudotooth had me from its first sentence. It’s one of those that in a few words tell a lot about the novel to follow... [which] is gorgeously written. Pseudotooth is less about mental or psychosomatic illnesses than about how people define and categorise the people who have them. It’s a book I’m afraid might slip under the radar of fantasy fans. That would be too bad–it deserves some attention.
– Super Doomed Planet
5* - As I’ve come to expect from publishers Unsung Stories, Pseudotooth is a unique read! And one I have no hesitation in recommending for those who enjoy sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian novels.
– Jera's Jamboree
[Pseudotooth] is a remarkable achievement for young writer Verity Holloway and a quality addition to the Unsung catalogue.
– Contemporary Small Press
Pseudotooth is not exactly magical realism, but not quite speculative fiction either; the writing is lyrical, the narrative dreamlike, the themes – trauma, mental health, otherness – powerful and thought-provoking. Aisling Selkirk is a well-drawn and sympathetic character, the milieu fascinatingly image-rich.
– Marija Smits
– The Book Geek Says
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-907389-41-2
ePub ISBN: 978-1-907-389-42-9
Publication date: 6 March 2017
Format: Paperback, ePub and mobi