“…Takes all of the best parts of Gothic horror and wraps them into a near-perfect romp…”
In the autumn of 1879, an intelligent, artificially-created being—outwardly a young woman called Maria—arrives in London under the protection of biologist Professor George Hobson. He gathers a few close friends and reveals her existence, explaining that she is the final result of a research programme undertaken by a dynasty of unethical scientists, the von Frakkens. All are now dead… or so it’s thought. Maria’s mutilated creator tracks her down, and she goes on the run, pursued by both her creator and the police. She finds herself at the heart of a raging controversy: some want her jailed, some want her dead, and some want to peel the flesh from her bones.
Thrilling and evocative, fantastical and grotesque, The Workshop of Filthy Creation uses a Frankenstein-ian thread to stitch together elements of real scientific history with the darkest parts of Victorian London and speculation on the nature of human life.
“Richard Gadz’s wonderful book takes the Frankenstein story and asks: what if Frankenstein had not been a work of fiction, but instead a real scientific manual that was suppressed by the authorities? The resulting story is a Victorian romp, a philosophical tract, and an examination of class and privilege, as well as being a pretty gory horror novel–much like the original Frankenstein in many ways, just set around a century later because humans never learn. I adore this book, with a highly sympathetic and female “monster” at the heart of it. But what is especially interesting is Gadz’s treatment of the poor in Victorian society. Throughout, the upper classes forget: they can hear you. They can see you. They are not tools to be used and discarded when you break them. They have their own ideas about what is right and wrong, good and bad–and they will act on those ideas, because they are people too. While it is not the primary story, the tension between these two groups is fascinating and written with beautiful subtlety.” – Goodreads, 5-star review
“I don’t normally read horror novels (I used to in my teens) but I’ve to admit that I was greatly intrigued by the Frankenstein trope that this book uses. So I decided that I must read it. I wasn’t disappointed. Truth be told, I really did enjoy the read! The Workshop of Filthy Creation cleverly weaves the history of medical science with fantastical speculations of artificial human life in the heart of Victorian London. The result is a disturbing, grotesque tale that will surely assault one’s sense of human dignity, decency and moral rightness. The first few chapters may seem like a plod for some. That’s because, I think, the author took great pains to set the stage for the tense, nail-biting drama that follows, leading to a deadly face-off between the hunter and the hunted. For readers who need a good dose of the macabre and gore to finish off the day, let Wilhelm von Frakken tantalise you with his most vile scientific prowess and experiments. You won’t be disappointed.” – Passion For Books blog
“A remarkable book, visceral and philosophical in equal measure. The perfect combination of big ideas and a rattling good yarn. Hell of a read.” – James Kinsley, author of Playtime’s Over
“A wonderfully sinister piece of Victorian Gothic horror that asks a few questions about the nature of humanity. Here we have a creature who may not fully identify with us but who quickly knows us and our uneven ways. The tale is visceral, creepy, and oh so sharp about respectable institutions and the nefarious people who rule them. This is another book that is fully populated with physical bodies that experience the full weight of the world. Don’t read this while eating. I was completely captivated by these characters. One to read over a dark dramatic weekend” – Genevieve Jenner, author of Chocolate Cake For Imaginary Lives
“An exciting modern gothic horror novel that examines what it means to be human… As someone who loves gothic horror, I thoroughly enjoyed Gadz’s modern take on a classic tale… The laboratory scenes are gruesome, the villain is detestable, and the hero, Maria, is sympathetic and is more human than her creator seems to be. Gadz takes all of the best parts of Gothic horror and wraps them into a near-perfect romp” – Read Yourself Happy blog
“I just loved everything about this book and these characters and the adventure they went on… The scene setting was so stunningly visual that I found myself constantly highlighting and annotating passages. It was so consuming that sometimes when I looked up from my book I’d be confused as to where the London fog and gaslights had gone. The characters were so cleverly built and thought out and felt incredibly real. What I admire the most is that this book is filled with a lot of bad guys, but is still readable. There’s such a fine line between writing a horrible character and making a character horrible to read. Gadz does this incredibly well. The villain in this book is so incredibly villainous that I was just in awe of what depths of evil he would get to while still enjoying every page. Von Frakken really needs to be up there with the villain greats in our literary history. Maria, our heroine, is no Victorian wimp. Granted, she’s not entirely human, or so she feels, but watching her mind develop and learn to adapt in the miserable slums of London is a fascinating journey. She’s a bad ass without being overly obvious about it and when she bosses around men and tells people off, my heart was all a flutter. I may be in love with Maria. The adventure! This is just a pure adventure story with twists and turns and epic fights and puzzle solving. The ending is incredibly well done and paced that I tore through the last 50 pages in 30 minutes. It felt similar to the epic battle at Reichenbach Falls between Sherlock and Moriarty in its scope and importance to the story. I mean, it just feels like an instant classic – we’ve got a seedy underground cult, suspicious doctors, a variety of gloomy locations, good vs evil, body horror, scientific experiments, a heroic Professor – what more could you need?!” – Horror Bound
“Brings the squalor of Victorian London to life, managing to make some modern medical procedures seem almost plausible in that setting. The fast-moving story maintains a good balance between the outright horror of gleefully gruesome scenes and the increasingly sympathetic character of the “monstrous” Maria, as she learns what it means to be human” – Lisa Tuttle in The Guardian
“London of The Workshop of Filthy Creation is everything you’d expect from a Victoriana-inspired cityscape. Lives there are brutal, dirty, cheap, and short. I enjoy steampunk and alternative histories, so I felt right at home in the world Gadz created… Everybody is a commodity to be exploited, and so is every body. Maria is the perfect “-punk,” the ultimate outsider who can see us and the systems on which we rely for what they really are. What they are isn’t good, or kind, or fair… Gadz has deftly populated his story with people who hold competing priorities. When those priorities run afoul of each other, the ensuing mayhem nicely blends characterization and exhilaration. For all of Maria’s philosophical wonderment, there’s plenty of action to keep the blood moving” – The Future Fire blog
MORE REVIEWS FROM GOODREADS
“An evocative, atmospheric gothic melodrama, expanding on the Frankenstein mythology. It conjures up the grime of London in the period, and the juxtaposition between the wealthy and poor is well written… the sympathetic lead character gives this heart”
“Set in Victorian London, [the book] takes familiar ingredients—a crazed scientist and his creation, an invention that will take over the world, hubris and greed faced down by sheer derring-do—and, fittingly, breathes new life into them… It plays its hand slowly in revealing the universe that it’s set in… I devoured the whole thing with a big stupid grin on my face.” 5 stars.
“Maria, technically the monster, is the stand out character and is excellently portrayed in the book. There were many issues that she had to confront, that of moral values, standards and beliefs… Some of the experiments are very graphic and gory in detail, so be warned… There was an underlying moral to the story of, what if this was really to occur? How would we, as the reader, view Maria?”
“Reads like a mash-up of Victorian popular fiction from Sherlock Holmes to H. G. Wells… It’s ghoulish, violent and, towards the end, moves at a relentless pace.”