Our Hideous Progeny: A Novel
A Best in Fiction Book for 2023
“A gripping Gothic tale of grief and ambition, passion and intrigue.” — Jess Kidd, author of The Night Ship
“An immersive blend of historical and science fiction brims with surprises and dark delights. . . . An incisive exploration of women’s rights within the field of science. . . . Readers will revel in Mary’s personal and scientific discoveries and root for her to succeed in an unfair world.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
As featured in Lit Hub, Lambda Literary Review, Book Riot and CrimeReads
It is not the monster you must fear, but the monster it makes of men . . .
Mary is the great-niece of Victor Frankenstein. She knows her great uncle disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the Arctic, but she doesn’t know why or how. . . .
The 1850s are a time of discovery, and London is ablaze with the latest scientific theories and debates, especially when a spectacular new exhibition of dinosaur sculptures opens at the Crystal Palace. Mary is keen to make her name in this world of science alongside her geologist husband, Henry—but despite her sharp mind and sharper tongue, without wealth and connections their options are limited.
When Mary discovers some old family papers that allude to the shocking truth behind her great-uncle’s past, she thinks she may have found the key to securing her and Henry’s professional and financial future. Their quest takes them to the wilds of Scotland; to Henry’s intriguing but reclusive sister, Maisie; and to a deadly chase with a rival who is out to steal their secret.
A queer, feminist masterpiece inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic, Our Hideous Progeny is a sumptuous tale of ambition and obsession, of forbidden love and sabotage and a twisty Gothic adventure that may forever change your view of human nature.
Praise for Our Hideous Progeny: A Novel
“Evocatively and compassionately, Our Hideous Progeny seeks a way to tell the stories of those 'whose tales cannot fit in one book, those poor creatures who remain lost or forgotten,' as one character notes.” — The New Yorker
“Our Hideous Progeny takes inspiration from Mary Shelley’s masterpiece along with the Victorian fascination with scientific innovation and the prehistoric world. This wonderful debut evolves into a gripping Gothic tale of grief and ambition, passion and intrigue.” — Jess Kidd, author of The Night Ship
“A wonderful book; dark, passionate, multilayered, and rich with enticing detail.” — Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat and The Strawberry Thief
“This immersive blend of historical and science fiction brims with surprises and dark delights. . . . An incisive exploration of women’s rights within the field of science. . . . The setting, too, feels wholly authentic, making it easy to get sucked in. Readers will revel in Mary’s personal and scientific discoveries and root for her to succeed in an unfair world.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"This is no typical revisiting of Shelley’s iconic tale...This is a post-Gothic treat, an enjoyably moody, fog-drenched fictional commemoration of women in science" — Booklist (starred review)
"Fans of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and historical horror with a queer feminist twist will not be disappointed. VERDICT In this immersive, richly detailed novel, Mary is an enthralling heroine with whom readers will empathize, and owing to assured, luscious prose, whose plight they will champion." — Library Journal (starred review)
"McGill’s beautifully crafted story set in the mid-Victorian period is a sequel of sorts to Mary Shelley’s iconic Frankenstein. It features an angry queer woman scientist stifled by her husband and society’s patriarchal notions about women’s intelligence. McGill’s characters — including a villain well worth hating — are wonderfully drawn, as are her explorations of the protagonist’s grief following her newborn’s death. Our Hideous Progeny is a worthy successor to Shelley’s ground-breaking science fiction masterpiece." — Autostraddle, Best Queer Books
“Exquisitely written, brimming with imagery both beautiful and shocking, this daring debut makes the rivalries of the Victorian scientific establishment thrilling and urgent, bringing us a story worthy of Mary Shelley.” — Sean Lusk, author of The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley
“A fantastic read: I felt everything about Mary, her simmering anger and her intellectual delight, so very clearly.” — Freya Marske, author of The Last Binding trilogy
"Darkly brilliant and sumptuously gothic, this atmospheric debut left me reeling." — C. J. Cooke, author of The Lighthouse Witches
"Compelling and utterly absorbing, Our Hideous Progeny is an artfully crafted debut that echoes the dark essence of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein while maintaining a fascinating originality all of its own" — Susan Stokes-Chapman, author of Pandora
"A gut busting adventure to escape into. I loved it. Loved the setting, the characters, the high stakes. What an exceptionally talented writer. Can't wait to talk about this to everyone." — Ericka Waller, author of Dog Days