The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot, his Wonderful Love and Terrible Hatred by Carl-Johan Vallgren

Hercules Barefoot

Apart from having a ridiculously long title, this book is a one-of-a-kind that you will either love or hate.

Set in a fictional Victorian-inspired era of Europe, our hero Hercules Barefoot is born deaf, dumb and horribly disfigured. However, Hercules Barefoot also has the power to read people’s minds, and it’s this power which is both a gift and a curse in his long and miserable life.

Described as a love story, the majority of the book follows Hercules Barefoot searching for his one true love, Henriette, who he was dramatically parted from when she was ‘sold’ to a man in their youth.

Along the way the reader bears witness to the extreme prejudice, bullying and torture that Hercules Barefoot suffers as he struggles to be treated as an equal among his peers. But Hercules Barefoot is not equal, and it is is the curse that he must endure that comes hand-in-hand with his astonishing gift.

I have to say I was really, really disappointed with this book, and it’s one that I would never be inclined to read again. The pace of the story enraged me; you’ll find the author slowly building up to something intense an important – only to race through and jump to the next Chapter in Hercules’ life.

One thing I can’t deny however,  is that this book is charged, atmospheric and thought-provoking – and all other reviewers have praised this read until they are blue in the face. If anyone else has read this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts – please comment!

2 Stars (2 / 5)


  1. “I have to say I was really, really disappointed with this book” – Damn! It had such an interesting premise. Can you explain more how it would jump to the next chapter? Was it anticlimactic in that sense?

    • Louise Dickens Reply

      Sorry for the delay in response! For me, it felt like they would spend a great deal of time building the suspense for an upcoming event, highlighting its importance and significance. Then the event would happen, and it would be over in a mere couple of paragraphs! I wanted and expected more detail; about how it happened, about the emotions felt by the characters, and about the aftermath. But I was left disappointed. Instead, it would just jump to the next theme of the story, and carry on in a similar pattern.

      That’s not to say you’ll experience the same feelings of frustration, but it was enough to annoy me and detract from the overall experience.

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