Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby
A debut novel from Venetia Welby that captured my attention when I was asked if I would review. At first I was not quite sure what I would make of Mother of Darkness but I have to say this is quite a debut novel, it is lyrical and at times darkly comical.
This is a novel that seems bleak and dark with a drug-fuelled background, which brings with it all the usual insecurities that goes with this. We are introduced to Matty Corani whose life is about to be turned inside out. Living in the back streets of Soho. Matty’s life is just falling apart by the day thanks in no small part to his pal Fix who supplies Matty with his drugs to help him escape from his real life nightmare.
Matty has no other real friends or family to count on and spends his days perched on his window ledge watching the world go by in various states of drug filled hours. Nothing seems real and yet it is real. Matty is just escaping from life that is catching up with him. Women come and go in his life and none will provide a stable lasting relationship. The clues to Matty’s decline are there at the beginning of the story. This is a very lyrical debut novel and it is very easy to get lost in the storyline, do you feel for Matty or will you just be one of the passers-by that he sees pass beneath his window. Fix is Matty’s shield against reality with everything that has happened to him you have to feel some sympathy but at the same time you just want to bring him to his senses before it is too late. His is on a downward spiral. The fact that his is also lying to his psychotherapist does not help his case. This is a Greek tragedy in more than one sense. If this sounds bleak at times it really is but there is something in the story and also in Welby’s writing that makes this a powerful debut set against the backdrop of Soho. A clever and brilliant debut. Some may say brave as it will be interesting to see how Venetia Welby follows this.
Thank you to Grace Vincent at Quartet Books for the advanced review copy.
Mother of Darkness by is published by Quartet Books and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.