The Monster’s Daughter

A Novel


"In her action-packed debut novel, Pretorius creates a skilful narrative involving a determined young sleuth whose work on a contemporary murder case reveals the unedifying history of South Africa and exposes the intrigues of unscrupulous individuals. Transferred to a dorp in the Western Cape, disgraced Constable Alet Berg becomes involved in investigations following a murder on a local farm. She pursues the case despite warnings and threats. The background to the murder extends as far back as 1901, when a medic performs experiments on women in the British concentration camps; and continues through apartheid, its deconstruction and the complexities of the present. A work of powerful imagination and profound insight."
Sunday Times South Africa


“Michelle Pretorius is a funny, surprising and fearless writer. The Monster’s Daughter is at once a historical thriller that reckons seriously with South African politics, an imaginative piece of speculative fiction, and a stereotype-busting roller-coaster ride of a novel. I loved it.”
Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife



Michelle Pretorius is the South African-born author of The Monster's Daughter which won the 2017 Friends of American Writers Literary Prize as well as being an American Booksellers Association Debut Voices pick. She is published in multiple genres and has received a Pushcart Nomination for her short fiction.


Michelle holds a B.A. from the University of the Free State in South Africa, a M.F.A. from Columbia College Chicago, and a Ph.D. from Ohio University. She currently lives in Connecticut where she is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Wesleyan University.


Interviews & Essays




2017 FAW Literary Prize




An American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce Debut Voices Pick


“Michelle Pretorius is a funny, surprising and fearless writer. The Monster’s Daughter is at once a historical thriller that reckons seriously with South African politics, an imaginative piece of speculative fiction, and a stereotype-busting roller-coaster ride of a novel. I loved it.”

—Audrey Niffenegger, author of
The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Times (UK)

“Pretorius is a writer of great promise, and her descriptions of the Boer War, in particular, are spellbinding.”


Library Journal

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


Book Noir

“...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.”



“Alet Berg is a substantial character; a resourceful and likeable policewoman with a history and a crime to solve against all the odds… the quality of writing suggests that  Ms. Pretorious is a name to keep an eye on.”


SJ2B House of Books

"A hugely ambitious multi genre, part speculative, part historical political fiction, all encompassed into a murder mystery thriller, this debut is a credit to the author and one I highly recommend."


Kritters Ramblings

“After reading, I discovered this was a debut and it took my breath away!  I loved that this author came out of the gate with a great piece of work and art and it usually takes a few books for me to become a fan of an author - not this time, I am a fan!”



Sunday Times - South Africa

 “A work of  powerful imagination and profound insight”


The Rumpus

“The Monster’s Daughter blends a rousing plot with deep, multifaceted characters, and it constantly pushes for deeper meaning beyond the surface. Pretorius aims high, and the results will likely have you thinking about the lingering traumas of the past, the toxic effects of marginalization, and the cost of moral and immoral actions long after you set down the book.”


Crime Review

“... this wonderful book, at the same time a breakneck thriller and a clever literary exploration of the turbulent history of South Africa, with characters that are complex, engaging and utterly authentic and its totally unpredictable plot will astonish you – and bring you to close to tears.”


Fully Booked

“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.”


The Book Whisperer

“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.”


Crime Segments

“I've been a bit disappointed with the so- called summer blockbusters that have come out this year from the big publishing houses.  I've been waiting for someone to get beyond same-old, same- old, and well, here it is. I can honestly say that The Monster's Daughter is an original.  It begins in a normal enough way for a crime novel, with the discovery of a dead body, but trust me, there is nothing at all normal about this book. And that's a good thing.”


Bewitched Bookworms

“Michelle Pretorius does an excellent job portraying the hopelessness, the anger, and the tension that Apartheid has had on South African citizens for decades... I truly couldn’t put this book down once the story really got going”



 Liz Loves Books

“The Monster’s Daughter is a brilliantly evocative novel that mashes up historical, crime and speculative fiction into a gloriously addictive and epic read, set in South Africa and with some dark themes right at the heart of it… Higly Recommended.”



"This was a superb novel. The writing was incredibly evocative and upsetting at times... Sometimes it is good to read something out of your usual type and The Monster’s Daughter was definitely one of those times.


Booker Talk

“This is a novel that deals with complex moral questions but it doesn’t do so at the expense of characterisation. The individuals who people its pages are not mere ciphers spouting predictable positions, they are flesh and blood who laugh and love in the most difficult circumstances.”


Nose in a Book

“I loved this debut novel and look forward to what Michelle Pretorius does next.”


“Combining dark historical fiction with a chilling modern day murder mystery is an inspired idea which, in The Monster’s Daughter, comes together in a shattering conclusion.”


Helen’s Book Blog

“I am sucker for a good mystery. This novel definitely has that. There are so many different mysterious storylines that converge near the end. Well done!