Book Review: HIDEOUS LOVE by Stephanie Hemphill

Posted 06/03/2014 by alicemarvels in Historical Fiction
HIDEOUS LOVE by Stephanie Hemphill




Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Page Count: 320


a short, bite-sized read


poetry fails to dazzle; no freshness or originality in this take on a familiar story; in spite of length, the story drags

An altogether unremarkable take on the Shelleys’ lives

Oh, verse novels. They are possibly the most hit-or-miss format available to an author.  Sometimes they are beautiful and lyrical, their succinct style allowing emotional subtext to bloom into vivid life, and sometimes they are ponderous and gimmicky, like an English assignment on Adderol. I’m sorry to say Stephanie Hemphill’s Hideous Love falls into the latter category.

The story of Mary Shelley, her husband Percy, step-sister Jane and their inimitable friend Lord Byron always makes for soap opera level scandal and intrigue, and I’ve seen it told countless times before. Unfortunately the short, choppy verse sentences in Hideous Love lack the imagination and poetic flare necessary to carve out new, noteworthy territory in the fictionalized lives of these famous Romantic writers. The rather entertaining real life story is, in Hemphill’s hands, a morose, drab slice of life, and it drags ceaselessly. I found myself rooting for impending tragedy to hurry the eff up and put these poor characters (and me) out of their misery. I think I’m definitely going to need a long breather before I have the desire to read about the Shelleys again. Given what historical fiction magnets this couple is, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of chances to wash Hideous Love out of my memory down the road.



    Verse novels have never worked for me, sadly, so I’ll be skipping this one for sure. Lovely review, Alice!


    I agree, when these are done well they are fantastic but when not…not so much. Sorry this one didn’t wow you Lauren.


    Definitely hit-or-miss with me. I don’t love verse, though I’ll give it a shot if people are talking. And LOL to “rooting for impending tragedy to hurry the eff up”. Heh.


    I agree prose novels either work or they fail miserably, so sorry this was a crash and burn for you. I tend to avoid these types of books because I am not a fan of verse and I think it comes across as gimmicky.


    Oh, this is so disappointing! I’m sorry this one didn’t measure up. Thank you for the honest and informative review!


    Yeah, maybe not for me then


    Oh noes! I’m new to verse novels and since I started with Hopkins the expectations are sky high for any others I would read haha. I can see how it could feel hefty though if it’s not done right. It sounds pretty boring, too. Hope your next read is better!!


    Man, sorry to hear this didn’t pack an originality punch, but good that it was bite sized…


    Bummer! I really like this time period and reading about writers. Thank you for your honest review.


    Sorry this didn’t work for you…I do want to check out more verse novels though.


    “English assignment on Adderol” – lol. I will neither confirm nor deny that I have experienced doing that. 😀 That sucks you didn’t enjoy it more. I don’t think I’ve even heard of it until now.


    Too bad on this one! I’ve actually never read a novel in verse, but I can definitely see how it would be hit or miss. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try one just yet, but you’ll have to let me know a favorite of yours to pick up when I’m ready:)


    Oh sorry this one didn’t work for you. Don’t think I would like it too. Yea, you can usually spot gimmicky from a mile away. Brill short review!


    I like verse novels but I know they don’t all work. I don’t think I would have picked this one up but thanks for the review so I know to skip it in the future, I don’t think it would work for me either.


    My youngest loved them, and like you it is so hit or miss with me. I am sorry this didn’t dazzle my friend.


    I was lucky enough that most verse novels till now were a hit for me, but this one sounds like everything but hit. How can a verse novel drag. I’m really surprised as you usually cannot stop reading them. I’m so sorry to hear this and great review 🙂


    Oh no, that does not sound good. I really love a verse novel, when done well. but you’re right about them being able to go so wrong :/

    You’ve given is a wonderfully honest review, hun!

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist


    I tend to struggle with verse novels too. I’m sorry to hear that this wasn’t as great as you wanted it to be. Thanks for the honesty though!
    Great review. 🙂


    Hideous Love was one I was super excited for but it failed to deliver for me as well. Prose is becoming more and more popular but it’s more than just breaking up sentences. Drags ceaselessly is a perfect description. Great review!

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