Reviewed on 27th February 2017

Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby

Genre: Contemporary / Fiction
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Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby Synopsis

Prepare to enter a very Different World… All hail Venetia Welby! Lured by the promise of satire, when Quartet contacted me to see if I’d like to review Venetia’s debut novel, I can honestly say this super-talented ‘new writer on the block’ didn’t fail to deliver. In fact, she delivered so much, with a prose […]

Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby Review

Prepare to enter a very Different World…

All hail Venetia Welby! Lured by the promise of satire, when Quartet contacted me to see if I’d like to review Venetia’s debut novel, I can honestly say this super-talented ‘new writer on the block’ didn’t fail to deliver. In fact, she delivered so much, with a prose so magnificent, I fear this article will look very pale in comparison…

Which isn’t to say that I found this a delightful read. Oh, far from it.

The author plunges us head first into a desperately bleak (as the title would suggest) and psychotic, drug-fueled world of extreme sadness, fear, insecurity and loss. Practically all the subjects I seek to avoid in a novel as a Positivity Guru. Yet the humour was so perfectly timed and punchy that somehow she got away with it, compelling me to turn the pages and read on. And that’s whats so refreshing about this story – and indeed Quartet for being maverick enough to take it on; a serious subject can indeed blend with satire… despite the nay-saying of many a corporate publisher.

I think all of us have met a “Matty”, or a potential candidate for a Matty. That’s the thing which truly kept me gripped. There is such a fine line between the typical teenage dabble in a bit of pot smoking, and ‘searching for something more’ when it’s no longer having the desired effect, or our problems seem overwhelming. Growing up in none other than Glastonbury, believe me, I have seen this more than most! And so Matty gave me, personally, more than a glimpse into the mental health of many a character from my past who took things too far. Indeed, many of the passages were a short, sharp shock to the system. I couldn’t help but feel utterly blessed that my peer groups changed very quickly, and my inner strength and knowing saved me from experimentation beyond a little hash.

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But there’s more to the novel than that. Matty makes us question our own sanity. What IS reality, after all? And doesn’t it all boil down to our own perception anyway? He leads us on other-worldly escapades, some, admittedly, losing me completely… and making me wonder whether I am alone, or it’s just my ignorance of Greek tragedy which is keeping me in the dark. I kind of think this is intentional though. It definitely works. We want to get to the bottom of this mess. We want to shake some ‘sense’ into this early twenty-something before it’s too late, we want to mother him, we want to help him to see that everything he needs is within; that yes, even in the direst of circumstances, life – devoid of chemical substances – can go on, and it can be happy. There are other, more natural ways of reaching a high.

His love interests try, his brother (in his own unique way) tries, his stepmother tries. Even his father (in his own very unconventional way) tries, we see in hindsight.

And then there’s Fix… who by the end of the book – putting my rose-tinted glasses aside – I just wanted to throttle.

That’s the work of one brilliant author; somebody who makes you care enough about the characters that you want to jump into the book and sort them all out. God knows, Matty’s trips to his Psychotherapist aren’t exactly working!

Venetia Welby is not your bog standard author. She’s a writer to watch. A writer who is gifted beyond description. The research that went into this book would have been extensive, the effortless way in which she flips between such different writing styles left me speechless. And whilst I cannot deny that the somewhat surprising ending left me puzzled, bereft and frustrated in equal measure, it’s something I would overlook in a heartbeat to devour her next work of fiction.

Mother of Darkness, by Venetia Welby is published by Quartet
ISBN: 978-070437-429-4

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