Book Review: The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan

“The year is 1793 and Herbert Powyss is set on making his name as a scientist. Determined to study the effects of prolonged solitude on another human being, he advertises for someone willing to live in his cellar for seven years in return for a generous financial reward. The only man to apply is John Warlow, a semi-literate farm labourer with a wife and six children to support. Cut off from nature, Warlow soon begins losing his grip on sanity while above ground, Powyss rapidly becomes obsessed with Warlow’s wife, Hannah.

The experiment, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone more than a little mad, will have unforeseen consequences for all included. In this seductive tale of self-delusion and obsession, Alix Nathan has created an utterly transporting historical novel which is both elegant and unforgettably sinister.”

I had this book on my Amazon wishlist for months and when I spotted it on a shelf at my local library, I knew I had to grab it.

This was such an intriguing read and I found myself unable to put it down at some points. The whole experiment idea had me hooked and I wanted to know what happened next. We were slowly getting to witness a man lose his mind and it was both unsettling and addictive. The Warlow Experiment is written in multiple POVs and Warlow’s chapters were my favourite. You could tell the way that he was changing by his writing and it was fascinating.

Unfortunately, my main issue with this book was that it had some pretty boring parts too, especially the political subplot. I picked up The Warlow Experiment as I was interested in the experiment but a large part of the story was focused on one of the French revolutions that happened during the time of the book. During these chapters I found myself getting bored and wanting to skip a few pages.

Overall, it ended up being a pretty average read. The parts of the book that centred around the experiment were amazing and wonderfully written, I just think that this book lost points by trying to write about two stories in one book.

I also recently found out that this book is based on a real-life experiment so I’ll definitely be looking into that in the future.

My rating: ★★★☆☆

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Have you read The Warlow Experiment? If you did, what did you think? Do you have any book recommendations for me that sound similar?

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