What a wild ride this story was, I read it in a single sitting before bed and I couldn’t put it down. The opening of A Human Stain reminds me of The Turn of the Screw; a young woman is enlisted by a wealthy gentleman to care for his recently orphaned nephew. The young woman goes to a remote castle and finds something strange is going on. It is a beautifully written gothic mystery with a healthy dose of body horror.
I loved the main character, a brash lesbian with an eye for the beautiful and quiet nursemaid. Everything about the castle and the people that reside there feels off-kilter and strange, the setting elicits a sense of dread the more that the heroine explored it. While the prose was gorgeously written, I’ll admit that I found it confusing at times, but I feel this was intentional as the main character was not sure of what she was really seeing. The vivid imagery came to life and the descriptions of bones, teeth and other things were truly chilling. The descent to madness among the cast of characters was expertly written in a way that felt natural and I fell in love with the author’s writing style.
“Perhaps the girl was simple. But so lovely. Roses and snow and dark, dark hair. Eighteen or twenty, no more. What a shame about her mouth. Bad teeth perhaps.”