Bookish Discussions

The Foundling // Can Bess Find Her Child?

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I’m heading off to Stacey Halls’ author event at Waterstones this evening. I’ll be listening to her chat about her debut, The Familiars, and her most recent novel, The Foundling. I didn’t want to go without having read her newest work, so I dedicated the weekend to it.

So… It’s London, 1754. Six years after leaving her newborn at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the illegitimate daughter she never knew. But her daughter has already been claimed, by her…

Less from a mile from Bess is Alexandra, a wealthy housebound woman, who is persuaded to hire a nursemaid to take care of her daughter. Her past is threatening to catch up with her, and will soon tear her carefully constructed world apart…

It sounds like a lot, right?

It was brilliant. Halls writes such captivating stories. She has quickly become a favourite author of mine, writing such tense and atmospheric historical fiction. Her writing style is simple but elegant. It’s enchanting and addictive. I flew through it in two days, which could have easily been one, because I couldn’t get enough of these characters.

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Bookish Discussions

Things in Jars | Victorian Detective Story with Scientific Twist

I was *really* intrigued by this, patiently waiting for its paperback release, but it didn’t live up to my expectations…A7B98D09-579B-45B0-9B23-82ED52E1FEDC.jpg

London, 1863. A strange puzzle has reached Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age. To recover a stole child, Bridie must enter the dark world of medical curiosities. The public love a spectacle and this child may as well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen.

I knew Things in Jars was about the so-called “curiosities” of people – the title gives that away – but I thought it would focus on disfigurements or disabilities, as these would have been true curiosities to the Victorians. I didn’t expect the fantastical element to the story, where the curiosities are things that are not entirely possible.

All I’m trying to say is: I thought Things in Jars would be a fun exploration of the growing interest in and understanding of Victorian science. In a way, it was, as it shone light on a certain movement in science, but the impossible element to it made it seem a little…off.

It just didn’t have the right feel to it, y’know?

I can totally understand why Jess Kidd might not have wrote it this way – it brings up some ethical questions, which would have been her downfall if done incorrectly, but I just thought it would shed light on how Victorian science viewed people who were different. Real different. Not made-up different.

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Bookish Discussions

The Furies | Murder, Witchcraft & Secret Societies

IMG_0363Last October I entered a competition on Katie Lowe’s Twitter to win a signed copy of her debut novel, The Furies, and, for once in my life, I actually won!

The Furies has been on my radar since it came out.

Set in a late 90s private school, the new girl, Violet, is obsessed with joining this elusive group of girls. Finally infiltrating the group, she is drawn into a world of secret societies, murder and witchcraft.

Doesn’t that just sound amazing?

It’s the history behind the private school that really drew me in. It was built on the grounds where witches would be persecuted during King James I of England’s reign – the time where basically every woman or Catholic was burned alive. Lowe didn’t just focus on a certain type of witch – mainly the occult witch – but drew on a long line of literary witches to write a fantastic story, looking at revenge, obsession and cult fantasies.

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