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November 28, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Graduate Student’s Debut Novel Receives Rave Reviews

Black and white headshot of Michelle Pretorius

Michelle Pretorius, creative writing doctoral student

by Kristin M. Distel

Doctoral student Michelle Pretorius’ novel, The Monster’s Daughter, has received many glowing reviews from domestic and international outlets. The novel, Pretorius’s first, was published in July 2016 by Melville House and Audible.

The Monster’s Daughter takes as one of its two main characters Alet Berg, a female constable in the modern South African Police Force who finds herself in the midst of a murder mystery that spans multiple generations. Tessa is the novel’s second female protagonist. Pretorius wanted her debut novel to feature a character like Tessa who is, Pretorius states, “a witness to the whole history of apartheid.”

Cover of The Monster's Daugther

Michelle Pretorius’s debut novel in was published in July 2016

Multiple reviewers have praised Pretorius’s ability to weave together these two characters’ distinct storylines.

Editors at The Book Whisperer state, “Both storylines keep you glued to the page as the mystery unravels for both the reader and our protagonist. […] At one point I gasped out loud with a twist I did not see coming. Pretorius has a knack for pacing and knows just how to drop the right clues when, an amazing feat for a debut novelist. It was incredibly researched.”

Pretorius, who hails from South Africa, is a third-year doctoral student in creative writing; much of the novel’s historical information comes from her intensive scholarly research as well as her lived experience as a South African woman.

Kirsty Wales of Book Nudge notes, “This story had me hooked from the beginning. The Monster’s Daughter […] is a fantastic read and it had me on the edge of my seat a few times. Throughout the book I got angry, I got excited and I got nervous and worried—everything that a great book should be. You end up living inside the book right until the very end.”

Wales concludes, “I would highly recommend this book to readers that enjoy a story to get their teeth into and I will most certainly be reading another of Michelle Pretorius’s books.”

Michelle Pretorius at the Melville House Bookseller's Dinner, where she holds the hardback copy of her debut novel for the first time

Michelle Pretorius at the Melville House Bookseller’s Dinner, where she holds the hardback copy of her debut novel for the first time

The Sunday Times South Africa describes the book as “A work of powerful imagination and profound insight.”

Jennifer Funk of McKendree University concurs, noting the book’s complex and nuanced engagement with multiple genres.

“Pretorius has written an impressive and well-executed debut novel, toeing the line between mystery, suspense, and science fiction. Readers who enjoy such international crime fiction authors as Stieg Larsson or Louise Penny will find this title a chilling read.”

David Prestidge of Fully Booked comprehensively sums up the novel’s success and Pretorius’s skill as a writer:

“The tensions and contradictions of Modern South Africa are described in an unflinching fashion, but without preaching or moralising. The account of the country’s troubled past is secure and convincing. It is barely credible that this is a debut novel. The writing is spectacularly good; compassionate, evocative of time and place and, above all, totally credible. It is this which makes the author’s gamble pay off—in brilliant fashion.”

The Monster’s Daughter is currently available at Melville House, Audible, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Wal-Mart, and independent bookstores.

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