Author(s): Katy Darby
'When you read these words, and all those that follow, I am afraid it must be because I am no longer here to speak them to you. Love is a disease; no doubt of it, and one which has proved mortal to many men down the ages ...' Oxford, 1887: Even as Victoria celebrates the fiftieth year of her reign, a stone's throw from the calm cloisters and college spires lies Jericho, a maze of seedy streets and ill-lit taverns, haunted by drunkards, thieves and the lowest sort of brazen female as ever lifted her petticoats. When Stephen Chapman, a brilliant young medical student, is persuaded to volunteer at a shelter devoted to reforming the fallen women of Oxford, his closest friend Edward feels a strange sense of dread. But even Edward - who already knows the devastating effect of falling in love with the wrong woman - cannot foresee the macabre and violent events that will unfold around them, or stop Diana, the woman who seems destined to drive them apart.
A compelling tale of death, despair and obsession ... Wildly and knowingly melodramatic but done with such energy and ingenuity that it's also tremendous fun - Sunday Times Richly atmospheric and rattling away in fine style, it conjures 19th century high society and its sordid underbelly with verve and flair ... Darby knows how to write a cracking novel ... Darkly enjoyable Metro This book really is a thing of beauty - and that's before you even open the cover ... The illusion is maintained inside, because the debut novelist Katy Darby has wrought a truly gothic little gem that could almost have fallen through a wormhole, 125 years ago... Darby manages to retain the flavour of the authors she so obviously admires - Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle - but at the same time establishes her own voice and creates a contemporary narrative ... a rare achievement - Independent on Sunday
Katy Darby studied English Literature at Somerville College, Oxford, and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where she received the David Higham Award. Her fiction has been read on BBC Radio, and she has published stories in magazines including Slice, Mslexia and The London Magazine, as well as winning prizes in several international fiction competitions. She teaches writing at City University, edits the short story magazine Litro (www.litro.co.uk) and co-runs the monthly live fiction event Liars' League (www.liarsleague.com). She lives in London.