The Palace of Curiosities
Winner of the Mslexia Novel Competition 2012, longlisted for The Desmond Elliott Prize 2013 and the Polari First Prize for First Book 2014. It was also winner of the Cooperative Bank 'Loved By You' LGBT Book of the Year 2013.
"Gentlemen and Ladies! You have come on a very special evening. How happy I am to welcome you to this Palace of Curiosities on such an auspicious occasion. What luck! What serendipity! For tonight we have mirth! Wit! And Jollity! We humbly offer for your discernment Wonder Unparalleled, Incredible Feats of Daring. Step inside for The Wonders of the Age! See The Lion-Faced Woman and The Marsyas of Modern Times, Star Attractions at Professor Arroner's Astonishing Marvels!"
The Palace of Curiosities: UK / Commonwealth all formats available (hardback, paperback, audio, ebook)
Read reviews here:
"Fabulously strange historical debut... a romp filled with sheer demented fun." - Suzi Feay
'The Palace of Curiosities is a jewel-box of a novel, with page after page, scene after scene, layer after layer of treats and surprises. Garland is a real literary talent: definitely an author to watch.' – Sarah Waters
'Garland's lush prose is always a pleasure.' – The Guardian
'Garland has woven an alternately brutal and beautiful story about love and belonging in a vividly conveyed underworld, rich in carny phantasmagoria and lyrical romance.' – The Metro
'The bewitching Palace of Curiosities will appeal to fans of Angela Carter & magic realism alike.' - Good Housekeeping
'Fantastic... It's an intriguing tale in which the narrative deftly alternates between the two lead characters, drawing readers ever deeper into a world that is horrifying and dazzling but seems every bit as real as our own.' – Creative Tourist
'Garland has produced a fascinating and delightful book. A cross between Philip Pullman and Angela Carter, she takes us on an evocative and wonderful journey full of magical delights and stunning set pieces... she made me gasp with the audacity of her ideas and smile with the light beauty of her prose.' - GScene
'The characters are fascinating, and Victorian London is vividly captured, and of course the language sparkles like sharp-cut jewels.' – Elizabeth Baines
'A stunning piece of work, with strong themes of identity, acceptance of the Other, and a touchingly unique love story between two fabulous main characters. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the benchmark against which the rest of this year's debuts will have to measure themselves.' – GoodReads
About the novel
Before Eve is born, her mother goes to the circus. She buys a penny twist of coloured sugar and perches on the edge of her seat to watch the heart-stopping main attraction: a lion, billed as a monster from the savage heart of Africa, forged in the heat of a merciless sun. Mama swears she hears the lion sigh, just before it leaps... and nine months later when Eve is born, the story goes, she doesn't cry – she meows and licks her paws.
When Abel is pulled from the stinking Thames, the mudlarks are sure he is long dead. As they search his pockets to divvy up the treasure, his eyes crack open and he coughs up a stream of black water. But how has he survived a week in that thick stew of human waste?
Cast out by Victorian society, Eve and Abel find succour from an unlikely source. They soar to fame as The Lion Faced Girl and The Flayed Man, star performers in Professor Josiah Arroner's Palace of Curiosities.
Set in 1850s London, this is the story of Eve and Abel; both freaks of nature searching for escape. It explores what it's like to be different, and traces their struggle for self-discovery on the boundaries of what is perceived as human.