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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
Scotland on Sunday
A dark novel filled with obsession and intrigue
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
[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
Thematically weighty and richly poetic, as you'd expect from McClory, and spiced with a delicious sense of irony, this is the ghost story given a 21st century shake-down
Lunate Fiction - One of the 2021 Books of the Year
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.
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