A ghostly, shape-shifting novel from a rising Scottish writer… playfully alert to ideas of authenticity, possession and the malleable nature of narrative'
snatched, impressionistic chapters [which] can switch between personal reflection and prose poetry – an elegant style which only gains in effectiveness as the haunted, gothic undercurrent of the novel becomes more apparent'
a true wordsmith and sorcerer who can bend words around her fingers into poetic and fantastic sentences'
Told in McClory’s rangy, poetic prose, Bitterhall just works. Beautifully'
Helen McClory is an extremely accomplished and intelligent novelist, which is what makes Bitterhall such a delight …[It] quickly establishes itself in the great Scottish tradition of Hogg's Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner and Stevenson's Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde. It is a novel of splits, doubles ghosts, the cleaving and the cloven. In some ways, it reminded me of the late Iain Banks. I ended it wondering what would happen to the characters next – a testament to its power'
Scotland on Sunday
[Bitterhall has] the enjoyment factor – I liked spending time with these characters. [McClory's] writing is immersive, [she] creates a very particular world. I really recommend it'
BBC Radio Scotland
Reeling with edge of your seat atmosphere Bitterhall is brilliantly unnerving novel that explores the liminal blurring of inner life with outward reality. Laced with dry wit, this shrewdly-written read rises to a gripping, question-raising climax'
A ... substantial meal, rich and gamey if one was to take Atwood's metaphor before she could snatch it back and drive a dining fork through its now blackened heart. ... intriguing revelations ... What is fascinating about the book is the role of the diary and how James Lennoxlove appears to be pushing from the past into the present'
A dark, intricate tale of a haunting…the plot, intriguing in itself, works as a vessel through which objective reality can be explored and questioned [but] McClory always draws us back in with her solid grasp on the physical world and the people who inhabit it'
Press & Journal
McClory's poetic prose is punctuated by haunting images and stark observations, deftly moving from the internal to the external [with] a witty sense of humour. A novel of pieces, short snappy chapters, multiple narrators and myriad themes…expertly drawn'
Moving, ambitious and strange in the best way ... a story about what it is to be haunted, which haunts you in turn'
Bitterhall, McClory's finest achievement to date, is many things: a mesmerising neo-gothic yarn; a technically adroit act of storytelling; a showcase for McClory's poetically rich prose; and a deeply moving story of three broken young lives'
A tantalising deep dive into characters' lives. This haunting story of love and friendship will have you hooked from the get-go. If you like a novel that leaves you questioning everything, this one is for you'
brings together the literary and the metaphysical ... You might be drawn in by the writing, but you’ll stay for the stories. And what more can you ask of a novel?'
And writing out of Scotland, Helen McClory’s boldly playful practice is poising itself to open up whole new genres for our new age'
The Guardian, UK's 10 best emerging writers
About the Book
'Hauntingly delicious' - Sunday Post
Bitterhall is a story of obsession told between three unreliable narrators. Daniel, Órla and Tom share a flat and narrate the intersections of their lives, from future-world 3D printing technology to the history of the book, to a stolen nineteenth-century diary written by a dashing gentleman who may not be entirely dead. A Hallowe’en party leads to a series of entanglements, variously a longed-for sexual encounter clouded by madness, a betrayal, and a reality-destroying moment of possession.
Helen McClory is the author of two story collections, On the Edges of Vision (Queen’s Ferry Press), a winner of the Saltire First Book of the Year award, and Mayhem & Death (404 Ink), as well as a novel, Flesh of the Peach (Freight, 2017). The Goldblum Variations – a collection of experimental micro-fictions – was published by 404 Ink, and Penguin in 2019. Her short stories have been listed for distinction in The Best of British Fantasy (2018), The Best of British and Irish Flash Fictions (2018/19), and nominated for the Pushcart prize. Helen is a part-time lecturer at the University of Glasgow and co-founder of writing retreat Write Toscana.
‘Hauntingly delicious’ – Sunday Post
Bitterhall is a story of obsession told between three unreliable narrators. Daniel, Órla and Tom share a flat and narrate the intersections of their lives, from future-world 3D printing...
It is the late seventeenth century and still the movement of the planets remains a mystery despite the revolutionary work of Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei and Tycho Brahe almost a hundred years previously. Edmond Halley – dynamic adventurer...
Sarah Sutherland wanted to be an archaeologist but now she is struggling to cope with the demands of work and caring for her elderly father, who has his own secret troubles.
Her fascination with the past still remains, and she feels a special...
The story of Islay, Jura and Colonsay is one of the most fascinating amongst all the Hebrides. They have had substantial human occupation since earliest times and man has left many relics across the islands, from tools and artefacts of mesolithic...