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March 29, 2024

A Botanical Daughter by Noah Medlock ~ a Review

by MK French


In Victorian London, Simon works long hours on taxidermy while Gregor works with exotic plants. When Gregor buys a strange fungus with signs of intelligence, he wants to develop it. He dreams of honors from the Royal Horticultural Society, but his plant-beast named Chloe needs a recently deceased corpse to grow on. Adding Chloe to the household adds complications as they try to hide her existence. She's growing well in the greenhouse, but where will the experiment go?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of gothic novel A Botanical Daughter by Noah Medlock
March 2024; Titan Books; 978-1803365909
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); gothic fiction

Simon and Gregor are nominal bachelors in Victorian London, but yes, they're a couple living in a greenhouse, but they at least maintain the illusion for propriety's sake. The mycelium that Gregor finds shows the awareness of darkness and water, and he hopes to develop humanoid intelligence: this would be the only child he could create, adding to his need to do so. Simon's love of taxidermy and skill with the dead comes in handy, and he would do whatever he can to help Gregor and keep them both out of jail. He is used to fixed items and dead things that don't move, so once Chloe starts moving around and the plant life making up her body is clearly growing, Simon is initially less ready to help. Keeping Chloe a secret is dangerous and deadly work, with few able to understand her needs.

It was definitely fascinating to see a fungal-based intelligence develop within Victorian England; "What Moves The Dead" by T. Kingfisher is set in a fantasy world with similar mores, but is no less chilling for that fantasy locale. The entity that becomes Chloe is initially passive and docile like any plant is expected to be, but the intelligence that develops wants to grow and explore, live the life of a girl. This involved violent means, similar to how the body that became Chloe's substrate was violently killed and the murder covered up. How she began is how she continues, and even her fathers get involved as they try to protect her. Gregor might feel that it's a low point in his life, but both he and Simon must change from the complacency that they had fallen into. Everyone in the novel is changed by Gregor's decision to build the intelligence, and he's rather lucky he did it in the Victorian and not the modern era.

Buy A Botanical Daughter at Amazon


Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.


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