THE UNSEEING by Anna Mazzola (Audiobook)


Publisher: Recorded Books
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★½


It is 1837, and the city streets teem with life, atmosphere, and the stench of London. Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, has been sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding. Edmund Fleetwood, an idealistic lawyer, is appointed to investigate Sarah’s petition for mercy and consider whether justice has been done. Struggling with his own demons, he is determined to seek out the truth, yet Sarah refuses to help him. Edmund knows she’s hiding something but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone with a child would go willingly to their own death?

THE UNSEEING is a vividly written novel of human frailty, fear, and manipulation and of the terrible consequences of jealousy and misunderstanding.


Ripped from the headlines of 1837! Based on the infamous Edgware Road Murder and the trial that followed in London, THE UNSEEING blends facts and fiction to bring to life this disturbing historical mystery.

Who killed Hannah Brown and why? Sarah Gale, poor seamstress and single mother of a small boy, sits in dismal Newgate Prison, waiting to hang for her part in the grizzly murder. But was Sarah unfairly convicted? Lawyer Edmund Fleetwood is sent to investigate. Edmund suspects she is not telling the whole truth about Hannah’s murder, which makes his job of saving her from the gallows very difficult.

This book was well researched and also gave readers an imaginative spin on the Edgware Road Murder. The author did a fantastic job conveying what life was like around the eve of the Victorian Era. It was difficult, to say the least, especially for a poor woman like Sarah. The pacing was slow in spots, and I was kind of annoyed that Sarah kept her secret from Edmund for so long. Clearly, he could be trusted, and Sarah had a child to consider too. I liked how the author had the crime and punishment play out in the end. It was fitting with the the actual events that took place.


Audiobook • 11 hrs, 26 mins • Liz Pearce, Narrator

I enjoyed Liz Pearce’s narration very much! There were several different characters from different classes, and her many accents were spot on and entertaining. I especially liked her voice for the awful prison guard Miss Sowerton. Her character was just as horrible as Newgate Prison itself!


Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: THE RIPPER’S WIFE by Brandy Purdy

The Ripper's Wife
Publisher: Kensington
Released: October 27, 2014
Source: Review copy from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Rating: ★★★¾


A suspenseful, spellbinding novel of love, jealousy, and murder, The Ripper’s Wife re-imagines the most notorious serial killer in history through the eyes of the woman who sealed his fate.

“Love makes sane men mad and can turn a gentle man into a fiend.”

It begins as a fairytale romance – a shipboard meeting in 1880 between vivacious Southern belle Florence Chandler and handsome English cotton broker James Maybrick. Courtship and a lavish wedding soon follow, and the couple settles into an affluent Liverpool suburb.

From the first, their marriage is doomed by lies. Florie, hardly the heiress her scheming mother portrayed, is treated as an outsider by fashionable English society. James’s secrets are infinitely darker–he has a mistress, an arsenic addiction, and a vicious temper. But Florie has no inkling of her husband’s depravity until she discovers his diary–and in it, a litany of bloody deeds…


THE RIPPER’S WIFE is a dark and gruesome story, told from the point of view of the famous murderer’s wife, Florie. James and Florence Maybrick were real people – James, a cruel cotton broker with a drug addiction, and Florie, his much younger, shallow wife. They had a troubled marriage almost from the beginning, but was it enough to drive James over the edge of sanity? This novel is an intriguing blend of historical fact and fiction, answering the question of what might have happened if James Maybrick was the deranged killer, Jack the Ripper.

It took some time for me to get into the book, but once James’s diary entries were revealed, I was hooked. This book was well-researched, and the author has a knack for including historical details – though readers be warned, some are quite disturbing. I can’t say that any of the characters were particularly likable, but maybe they weren’t supposed to be. There were a few times I wanted to shake Florie and tell her to snap out of it! Of course, James/Jack was horrible, but it was so interesting to get a peek inside his head and learn what drove his madness.

Though not for readers sensitive to violence or foul language, THE RIPPER’S WIFE is compelling historical fiction that gives a convincing argument that perhaps James Maybrick was Jack the Ripper.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: LADY OF ASHES by Christine Trent

Lady of Ashes

 

Publisher: Kensington
Released: February 26, 2013
Source: Review copy from the publisher

In 1861 London, Violet Morgan is struggling to establish a good reputation for the undertaking business that her husband has largely abandoned. She provides comfort for the grieving, advises them on funeral fashion and etiquette, and arranges funerals.

Unbeknownst to his wife, Graham, who has nursed a hatred of America since his grandfather soldiered for Great Britain in the War of 1812, becomes involved in a scheme to sell arms to the South. Meanwhile, Violet receives the commission of a lifetime: undertaking the funeral for a friend of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. But her position remains precarious, especially when Graham disappears and she begins investigating a series of deaths among the poor. And the closer she gets to the truth, the greater the danger for them both…

———

I thoroughly enjoyed LADY OF ASHES, the first book in an original new series featuring Victorian undertakers. This book first caught my eye many months ago, and I was intrigued that the protagonist was a 19th century female undertaker. Though her career choice was odd for a woman of her time, Violet Morgan’s character was likable and easy to connect with, and she drew me into the story. She was a compassionate person and savvy businesswoman, able to keep Morgan Undertaking thriving while her husband’s shady dealings kept him otherwise occupied.

LADY OF ASHES was well-researched historical fiction, giving readers a detailed look at funeral practices and mourning customs during the Victorian Era, as well as British opinions about Americans and the Civil War, and the plight of the London poor.

The plot moved slowly at first, but my morbid fascination with the subject matter (early embalming techniques!) easily held my interest. The pacing picked up considerably after Violet suspects foul play in the deaths of two seemingly unrelated people. I loved how the mystery played out – very exciting!

A macabre murder mystery, a touch of political intrigue, and a vivid glimpse of life in 1860s London made LADY OF ASHES an engrossing read.

Rating: 4½ Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.