Cover Image: Eynhallow


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Eynhallow (from the Norse Eyin Helga, meaning “Holy Island”) is one of seventy islands making up the Orkney archipelago on the northern Scottish coast. Only 0.29 square miles in area, the small island is often surrounded by cold wind and strong tidal surges. Mystery, too, surrounds Eynhallow. In traditional folklore, ghosts and restless spirits have been said to haunt the island’s Bronze Age ruins and standing stones—the purpose of which are obscured, ranging from territorial markers to sites of druid rituals. But while these traces remain, Eynhallow’s former inhabitants did not. In 1841, the island was completely abandoned. Stranger still, right before jumping ship, the Eynhallowans destroyed their homes and curtailed the possibility of any future habitation. Today, no ferries run to Eynhallow. Visitations organized by the Orkney Heritage Society are limited to once per year. And, all in all, not much is known about the island’s shrouded history.

Enter Eynhallow by Tim McGregor (author of Wasps in the Ice Cream and Taboo in Four Colors). Not content with not knowing, McGregor’s latest novel is a speculative account about why Eynhallow’s residents abruptly left. The novel also speculates over what is continuing to keep people away. Though these questions open up tempting opportunities for the fantastical, McGregor pushes back against such reader expectation. Instead, Eynhallow’s horror is rooted in human action, in the evil that people so often do to one another.

The protagonist of the novel is Agnes Tulloch, a mother of four living on Eynhallow in 1797—some forty years before its mysterious abandonment. Interestingly enough, Agnes is not originally from the island but, rather, was dragged there as a young bride. Unusually tall, Agnes’ parents thought her impossible to marry off, so they hastily bequeathed her to a man twice her age: a drunkard and abuser Agnes formally refers to as “Mr. Tulloch.” On such a sparsely populated island, to be a non-native is to be an outsider, separate, apart from the locals who grew up there. And on Eynhallow, the locals are extremely wary of outsiders, often talking about Agnes in Eynhallow patois that she doesn’t understand. In truth, Agnes only has Katie—her sole friend and confidant—but distance remains even within this relationship, as Katie’s family life is remarkably happy whereas Agnes’ is decidedly not. Ultimately, as much as she desires escape from Eynhallow—from the island that has turned her into a kind of island herself—Agnes’ children root her to the one place she seeks freedom from. As a result, Agnes is a responsible mother but a resentful one, referring to her children as “beasts” and “savages.” Through Agnes, McGregor deftly crafts an unnerving kind of separate-ness. Throughout the novel, Agnes is constantly aware not only of the physical distance between the island and the mainland but of the distance between her and others, too.

And then the mainland comes to her, in the form of a mysterious stranger.

This part of the book is best experienced firsthand, so I’ll save my thoughts and let you experience the unexpected direction Eynhallow moves toward for yourself. However, regardless of the stranger’s impact on Agnes’ story, the foundational themes of isolation, femininity, and motherhood established in the novel’s start remain and become further developed throughout.

At first, I distrusted the reveal of the stranger’s identity as Victor Frankenstein, the mad monster maker from Mary Shelley’s classic novel. I was afraid that Victor’s arrival signaled Eynhallow’s turn from a feminist Gothic horror into yet another Frankenstein retelling. And I didn’t want to see Frankenstein and his monster overshadow Agnes and all of the character development McGregor enacts in the first third of the novel. But incredibly, Eynhallow maintains its identity and is able to center Agnes’ story without Victor Frankenstein taking over. To be sure, bits and pieces of Frankenstein are present throughout the narrative. However, the opportunities that McGregor finds for reimagining Shelley’s novel while intertwining it with Eynhallow’s abandonment are impressive. For example, readers (like myself) who have not read Frankenstein since high school may have forgotten that Victor briefly travels to “the remotest of the Orkneys” to begin laboring at a bitter task: building his monster a female companion. While reading, I found myself researching Shelley’s novel and Eynhallow’s real history simultaneously, slowly piecing together what McGregor had been stitching up with these two distinct threads the whole time, and dreading what would happen when they eventually crossed paths.

1935 teaser poster for Universal Pictures’ Bride of Frankenstein
In Shelley’s novel, Victor toils away at his task alone, unbothered by the Orkney natives. Yet, Eynhallow diverges here, as Agnes becomes Victor’s caretaker and, eventually, something of an assistant. While Agnes isn’t privy to the nature of Victor’s work, their relationship allows McGregor to illustrate their similarities, and this is where Eynhallow’s reimagining of the original source material truly shines. Particularly compelling is how both characters act and perceive themselves as creators: Agnes to four (living) children, and Victor to one necrotic monster. However, Victor struggles to accept his role as creator, and compares his offspring in a negative light to the four Tulloch children. Agnes responds, “I just think it’s sad that you have such a grim outlook on parentage. It is a wonderful thing, but it is not easy. You have to teach as well as love, and there are many times when one fails. But one still cherishes their offspring, no matter what their circumstances.” Moments like this one are a part of what makes Eynhallow’s engagement with Shelley’s text so intriguing. The reader hopes that Agnes’ advice will have an impact on Victor, that he will change, yet the reader also understands that this is a character who is bound to his bitterness, unable to love monsters as well as humans.

As a Frankenstein reimagining, Eynhallow is a clever invention in its own right. As a novel rooted in Eynhallow’s very real history, McGregor’s work is an unexpected and inspiring blend of folklore and literary canon. Readers will delight in how Eynhallow does not sacrifice its identity to Mary Shelley’s classic novel but, rather, remains centered around Agnes’ story—however grim her narrative turns out. Victor’s arrival, then, is not the focal point but how McGregor offers us a glimpse into the outside world, the means through which Agnes is finally able to think differently about the roles she’s been ascribed (daughter, wife, mother, midwife), and the catalyst for Agnes’ eventual transformation. Complicated by the fact that Agnes’ agency is repeatedly underscored by the men in her life, Victor’s arrival increases her freedom initially but also ensures her devastating isolation. So too is Agnes’ feminist reckoning underscored by the reader’s knowledge of what Victor has in store for her. Savvy readers will recall that, in Mary Shelley’s novel, Victor assembles but does not reanimate his creature’s bride. In fact, he destroys her, fearful that she may become “a thinking and reasoning animal.” In Eynhallow, Agnes transcends this silencing and remains all too aware of her circumstances—but, one must ask, at what cost? Just as Eynhallow remains surrounded on all sides, Agnes becomes a true island by the novel’s end. Throughout history, women have long been made monstrous by men. By Victor, Agnes is made monstrous as well. A more optimistic reading may be that Agnes finally gets her escape from those who have isolated her on the island. Yet, Agnes also gets no escape from the island itself. Just as Victor Frankenstein reanimates Agnes, McGregor reanimates a beloved classic. However, whereas Victor’s reanimation leaves Agnes trapped in yet another pre-ascribed role as a monstrous feminine entity, McGregor’s reanimation puts such troubling gendered violence on full display—in a work both freeing yet encapsulating.

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Thanks to Netgalley for a copy for an honest review

I really enjoyed reading

Rating 4 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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What an amazing retelling of the story of Dr. Frankenstein. This blend of horror and drama occurring on the island of Eynhallow kept me on the edge of my seat and awaiting to see what was going to happen next. You will not want to put this book down and you will be questioning who really is the monster!

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Gripping, atmospheric, dark, and beautifully written. Can you feel the wind, the damp, the chill in the air? I could with Tim McGregor's wonderful and vivid descriptions of Eynhallow. Oh, how I felt for Agnes Tulloch. She has a hard life. Married to a harsh, temperamental, and abusive husband on a remote island with twenty inhabitants. The only joy she has in her life is her four children and her friendship with her neighbor Katie.

When a mysterious and wealthy man by the name of Frankenstein arrives on the island, the villager’s interest is piqued, and the gossip flows from their lips like the waves flowing on their shores. Her husband jumps at the chance to make some extra money by hiring Agnes out as a cook to the mystifying and peculiar scientist. Agnes has always stood out on the island due to her height and not being a native of the island. She forms a bond with the newcomer who is also looked at with judgmental eyes.

I was fully invested in this book from the very beginning. I loved how the author captured the time (1797) and the feel of life on the island. The harsh way of life, the small group of people, the roles they played, and the struggle to survive. I also enjoyed seeing Agnes with her children and enjoying conversation with her friend, Katie. It was nice to see her relax and enjoy herself during these tiny moments in time.

I enjoyed how the author captured the character's feelings and themes of love, obligation, longing, friendship, loss, companionship, and strength. I also enjoyed the trapped feeling that took place in many forms in this book. Being trapped in a marriage, trapped in obligation, trapped in societal expectations and norms of the time, trapped on a remote island, trapped in never-ending work, and trapped in harsh conditions.

I also appreciated how the plight of women living during that time (1797) was shown. They had little to no say in their lives, about their bodies, about their dreams. What they did have was expectations, obligations, hard work, and hard lives.

As the book progresses so does the slowly building sense of dread and tension which I love in books. I read this book slowly so I could savor it and the passages. This book was moving, maddening, horrific, beautiful, and simply wonderful. I don't think I have ever felt so much while reading a horror book which is a testament to the author's writing and characters.

This is the second book that I have read by McGregor. The first being Wasps in the Ice Cream. I look forward to reading more of his books in the future.

Gripping, Atmospheric, horrific, beautifully written, and moving.

Thank you to RDS Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

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It’s 1797 on the Okrney Islands, and Agnes is struggling to make ends meet with her four young children and alcoholic and abusive husband. When a stranger named lands with plans to rent an abandoned cottage, everyone on the island is curious but hesitant to accept him. But after the stranger arrives, things become unsettled on the island, and it’s only a matter of time before Agnes’ life is turned upside down.

This work is a partial retelling of Frankenstein and is set during a very specific portion of the original tale. I really liked the depth given to this brief portion of the original story, and that it was told from the POV of a local. The setting was well written with the tumultuous ocean and the isolated village, and I enjoyed the brief inclusion of some of the folklore of the area. The atmosphere was solid throughout the read and added much to the experience.

I did have a difficult time connecting with the characters. They were written well enough to not detract from the work, but I couldn’t emotionally connect with them. This included Agnes, and it was difficult to become emotionally invested in the story. I think this was partially due to the fact that the way Agnes’s narration was written felt detached, which made even the most horrible moments of the story lacking in some oomph for me. I did like the portrayal of Frankenstein and how it supplemented the original story, though.

This story was quite original and is a solid addition to the tale of Frankenstein. If you enjoy retellings, then you’ll likely enjoy this one. My thanks to NetGalley and RDS Publishing for allowing me to read this work. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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Eynhallow by Tim McGregor is a historical gothic horror set on a remote Orkney Island and centered on Agnes Tulloch, wife to an abusive husband and mother to their four children. When a visitor named Victor Frankenstein arrives on their scarcely populated island, everything changes.

This book was amazing! The beginning started slow, establishing the characters and life on the island. I felt very drawn to Agnes. The writing felt immersive and I highlighted many lines, but most of all, I enjoyed reading about Agnes' daily life experiences, relationships, and her perspectives on the other characters. Though I was able to predict what was going to happen, I could not put the book down and read it in a few sittings. I only wish the book was longer and I could read more about Agnes! For fans of gothic classic reimaginings and atmospheric settings. Thanks to Raw Dog Screaming Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC of this novel.

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The story is set in the year 1797 Orkney Islands of Scotland. Agnes our giantess ( wrong to call a tall woman that but old times) lives on island of Eynhallow.

Eynhallow is a real place in Orkney Islands and it is as what is described in this novel. Windswept and umbrous. It gives you a chilling and lonely feeling that sets the tone of the book from the very start. I'm also amazed at author's feminist voice being a male author. — "How on earth could I corral four savage children with swollen feet and an aching back? How would I eat for two when there’s barely enough for one? To say nothing of the heartbreak if the child is born blue or expires shortly afterward. Three times now I have held cold baby flesh that will not warm no matter how I rub it by the fire.
Every woman skates the razor’s edge when she brings life into this world."

Of course the conditions are dire for women , their lives mostly governed by the men in their lives but the way he has written Agnes' character and even Kate's is what I loved the most about this novel.

There are only 20 people on the island. Agnes and her husband, Robert and their 4 kids. Agnes' only friend Kate and her husband and their 6 kids and 3 other couples. There's scarcity of everything on the island. And suddenly there comes a strange visitor to stay on the island, who's mysterious and rude and pompous.

Nobody likes his foreign presence but he needs help looking after his place and Agnes' husband volunteers her for the same. Agnes at the start is vary of the stranger but as she slowly comes to know him, she starts to realise that he is not what he seems. But everytime she goes to help him clean the house, he has new bruises and injuries, cause of which he isn't keen on sharing.

Eynhallow is retelling of Frankenstein, not just retelling it takes you further into the gothic gloomy world Mary Shelley created. Frankenstein is one of my favourite novels of all time and I was highly doubtful if eynhallow will even be able to set the brooding and tense atmosphere Frankenstein sets but eynhallow surpassed the expectations and I was much impressed.

Eynhallow grabbed me from the very first sentence till the end. Towards the end I felt it little bit dragging cause of which I will give it one star less but even then it doesn't lose it grip and keeps reader hooked.

One of favorite reads of the year for sure.

Thank you very much Netgalley and RDS publishing for the ARC in exchange of an honest review.

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This. Book. My goodness, this book. An unexpectedly haunting novel, EYNHALLOW is an unsettling love letter to Mary Shelley and her masterful creation, FRANKENSTEIN. In this novel, Tim McGregor brings us to a sparsely inhabited and isolated island in Scotland, where a mysterious tenant named Victor Frankenstein arrives with a curse and a purpose.

McGregor’s characters, particularly the main character Agnes and her children, are beautifully written. The reader feels Agnes’ contained rage, her grief, her alienation. In reluctant to say more about Agnes but she’s a brilliant character.

The setting feels immersive in a way that allows the story to sneak under your skin as a reader. I felt desperately lonely as I read this book (all at once, in a single night, for what it’s worth.)

Initially, the narrative is slow and tedious - but I suspect this is intentional, a contrast to how life changes once Frankenstein takes up residence on the island. The moment he steps off of his boat, there is a feeling of dread that you can’t quite shake off.

EYNHALLOW is both horror and literary fiction. If you have read Shelley, you know that her work tells us something about our society - often an unkind but necessary truth. EYNHALLOW exists in that same space, a reminder that we are still haunted by the very same ghosts that Shelley wrote about centuries ago.

Thank you to NetGalley and Raw Dog Screaming Press for the advance copy. All opinions are entirely my own.

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McGregor has become a master at writing historical horror. He makes it so you are time traveling in a way, getting you wrapped up from the get-go.
This time we go to Scotland, and the folklore is deep.
Highly recommended.

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I've been an active reader for two and a half years now, so I know myself pretty well in terms of what I like and don't like to read. I don't usually enjoy historical or Gothic horror, BUT I absolutely LOVED this historical, Gothic horror retelling of Frankenstein.

It was bleak, heartbreaking and had a strong female lead who I was immediately drawn to within the first page. If you're looking for something to both anger and haunt you then look no further! Come take a trip to Eynhallow and enjoy the ride.

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I will be thinking about this book for a long time. It was so haunting and beautiful.

An amazing view/twist on Frankenstein that will stick with me for a while. Agnes falls into hard times because she gets caught up in the wonder of Frankenstein and it completely changes her life and the life of everyone else around her.

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On a small, Scottish isolated island called Eynhallow resides a small community of only twenty hardworking people (including children) taking place at the end of the 18th century. Agnes Tulloch is one of those residents who accepts her lot in life and loves her three children more than anything but most of the time she feels cheated with life itself. The wind is brutal day in day out and the storms come out of nowhere leaving their too small cottage which is in ill repair damp, leaky and cold most days and the tedious, hard work is a never ending cycle.

One day a mysterious stranger arrives on the isle and stirs up gossip about why anyone would want to come live on Eynhallow especially in the old vacant cottage rumored to be haunted for many, many years. Superstitions and folklore are abundant during those times so the residents are somewhat fearful as well as curious about why an aristocrat would want to move to their lonely isle. Meanwhile, Mr. Tulloch hires poor Agnes out as a housekeeper and in those days the wives must always abide by their husbands wishes.

The dark, brooding stranger is rude, arrogant and unfriendly as well but he is interesting and accepts Agnes in a way that she has always been denied and they quickly become friendly and enjoy one another's company although Agnes wonders why the man named Victor Frankenstein is so unhappy and why he won't reveal to her the type of work that he performs in the room he keeps locked day and night. Someone has been threatening and harming Victor and he won't tell Agnes who or why this person is after him until the day she comes across this dangerous and terrifying person and is fearful for own her life as well as Victor's and she will then make a decision that will change everything she had ever known or believed for the worse when she suddenly finds herself trapped in a living nightmare that she can never wake up from or find an escape back to her old life.

This was the most amazing, horror book that I will remember for a very long time! The beautiful, atmospheric writing and storytelling were so mesmerizing that I didn't want the story to end. The book begins slow and steady giving lovely and thoughtful detailed descriptions of the island and the colorful lives of the characters. Some may say this was a retelling but I considered this book an original and brilliant piece of work. The last thirty percent of the story had my pulse racing and I was holding my breath but I never expected to feel an ache in my heart by the time I was finished reading. This book was very dark, dismal, raw, unexpected, entertaining and realistically told with it's atmospheric and historical edge that will appeal to almost every single, horror reader.

I must add this was not a long book yet it captured all the substance and quality content of a novel that was three hundred pages or more but without all the silly filler words and phrases that can be so unnecessary and annoying in many books. You won't find any excessive drama although one may wish the story could have lasted longer because Agnes's story will stay with you for a long time as well as some of the other characters. Eerily sinister and the horror will creep up on you slowly and steadily and when it finally hits it may be shock to your psyche as it was to me.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough and wish I could give it more than 5 stars and I am most definitely looking forward to reading more of Tim McGregor's other books since I have been so enchanted by this author's writing! I hope that my hearfelt words will encourage other readers to pick this book up and begin a wondrous and horrific journey to the desolate island of EYNHALLOW which is actually still in existence.

I want to thank the publisher "RDS Publishing" and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this tale of madness and any thoughts or opinions expressed are unbiased and mine alone!


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Eynhallow is a small island, part of the Orkney islands, off the coast of Scotland. It is inhabited by only a few families, so life is uneventful. Until a stranger comes to rent one of the empty houses. His presence is enough to stir things up on the island, but no one knows his true intentions…

This retelling of Frankenstein, or a continuation of his story in a different setting, was such a fun trip! I loved the backdrop of the story, the seclusion of the island and the reclusiveness of its inhabitants, and how the arrival of a stranger slowly unhinges everything. I loved getting into Agnes’ world and her troubles, how her encounter with Victor Frankenstein changes her life and how it all unfolds.

Perhaps it’s about time I finally read Frankenstein now I’m loving the retellings so much…

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EYNHALLOW by @timmcgregor1 is a gorgeous piece of horror. It is THE most atmospheric and unique take on FRANKENSTEIN. I love it so very much!

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Tim McGregor's "Eynhallow" is a captivating and deeply atmospheric spin on the Frankenstein mythos that transports readers to the stark, haunting landscape of the Orkney Islands at the close of the 18th century. This novel is not just a reimagining but an expansion, delving into the psyche of its characters against a backdrop of isolation, superstition, and the burgeoning terror of the unknown.

Agnes Tulloch, a character of formidable presence both physically and emotionally, serves as the novel's heart. Her life, marked by hardship and a stoic endurance, is profoundly altered by the arrival of Victor Frankenstein, a man whose secretive pursuits cast a long shadow over the island's inhabitants. McGregor’s portrayal of Agnes is both sympathetic and richly detailed, offering a lens through which the story's darker themes are explored.

It is more than a mere gothic tale. It is a story about the resilience of the human spirit, the quest for knowledge at any cost, and the immutable bond between a mother and her children. McGregor's choice to narrate the story from Agnes’s perspective adds a deeply personal dimension to the novel, allowing readers to feel her struggles, fears, and fleeting moments of hope.

In summary, "Eynhallow" is a remarkable novel that offers a fresh perspective on a classic story. It is a testament to Tim McGregor’s talent as a storyteller and his ability to breathe new life into familiar tales. Highly recommended for fans of the genre, this book is a haunting, beautifully written exploration of what it means to seek knowledge, to survive against the odds, and to face the monsters we create.

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A retelling of Frankenstein that will stay with you long after the last page. Agnes is a crofters wife living on Eynhallow in the Orkneys when Victor Frankenstein comes to the island to complete his duty to his monster - to find him a wife. What follows is a haunting ghost story with a devastating twist.

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Thank you so much NetGalley and RDS Publishing for providing this ARC. The book has been released as of February 22, 2024 however I just received the approval this week. Needless to say, a retelling of Frankenstein is right up my alley. This book was well written and if you are a fan of gothic vibes and monsters, I definitely think you should pick up this book.

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Eynhallow by Tim McGregor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Set in 1797, Eynhallow tells the poignant story of Agness Tulloch, a 29-year-old inhabitant of the eponymous island, through her own eyes. Married young to a widower for the promise of security, Agness had to forsake the affections of a young man she truly loved from her hometown. Years into her marriage, she finds herself trapped in a life with an abusive, alcoholic husband and the responsibility of caring for their four children. Despite her deep love for her children, Agness often catches herself gazing out at the sea, longing for the return of her first love, who vowed to earn her hand and rescue her from her lonely life.

However, the arrival that disrupts Agness's routine is not that of her former suitor, but rather a mysterious traveler named Victor Frankenstein, who seeks to fulfill a chilling obligation to someone or something. Tim McGregor weaves a narrative that is at once beautiful, haunting, and tragic, exploring themes of love, loss, and yearning.

Eynhallow offers more than a mere retelling of the classic Frankenstein; it imagines an alternative history for the actual uninhabited Scottish isle of Eynhallow, which has been devoid of inhabitants since 1851. McGregor's depiction of this small island is rich with historical intrigue. I was shocked to learn Eynhallow is a real place, something I didn’t know (thanks to my American ignorance) before opening this book. I’ve been googling ever since finishing the novel and have become quite obsessed with the island's history.

I was deeply captivated by this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys literary horror fiction or is intrigued by a new perspective on the classic tale of Frankenstein. McGregor's skillful storytelling invites readers to see an old story in a new light, making Eynhallow a memorable and highly recommended read.


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I trust in and love Tim McGregor’s writing so I was very excited to pick up this reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Eynhallow is a wonderful example of paying homage to a classic whilst reimagining the story from a fresh lens.
This is a case of Frankenstein’s story being told from a different POV.

The tiny island of Eynhallow set an eerie scene for the various creepy happenings that were to unfold. I found myself eagerly turning the pages to see how it would tie into the original Frankenstein. The overall atmosphere felt very bleak and unsettling.

I felt McGregor executed the historical aspect very well. It stayed true to the time in history whilst also making it feel accessible for those who may not normally pick up classics. Readers will be drawn in by the atmosphere and fascinating characters, particularly Agnes.

You do not have to read Frankenstein before delving into Eynhallow but I do feel it enriches the experience and adds further context.

Thank you to Raw Dog Screaming Press and NetGalley for my eARC!

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I’ve read some good books lately, but it’s been a while since I’ve gotten excited, like really excited over a read. What do you think you’re gonna get when you pick up this novel? This is 178 pages of pure magic. I need more novels from this author, so much more!

Agnes, oh dear Agnes. This is really her story, even if it’s a retelling. What a human to experience. It takes a LOT to make me shed a tear, and it happened thrice! This woman…you feel her struggles, her grief, and the weight on her shoulders. You also feel the love she has for her children and her dearest friend. The events that unfold in this story will pull hard and leave you reeling. It is amazing what a person can endure.

I can also finally brag that I learned a hand full of new words! It’s been ages!! A thought provoking, educational read that is also wonderfully captivating!

This may be a very personal opinion, but Tim McGregor can write a woman’s perspective beautifully.

There are a few triggers for this read: infant death, maternal death, domestic abuse.

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