Victorian Mystery

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Posted in Historical Fiction, Victorian Mystery, YA Fiction on November 8th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

I must admit to being a big Mary Hooper fan and I’ve been hooked ever since I read Newes from the Dead.  She is a fabulous story teller and as a writer of historical fiction she really immerses the reader in the sights, smells and sounds of each historical period.

It is London, 1861 and our heroine, fifteen year old Grace Parkes, is embarking on the sinister sounding Necropolis Railway to hopefully bury a secret which will never be unearthed.  However, this burial is ironically the catalyst for the birth of a myriad of new challenges facing Grace and her vulnerable sister Lily who have been recently orphaned.  When their lodgings in the slums of Seven Dials are marked for demolition, they are made homeless and forced to seek employment with the Unwins, a disreputable family who seem to have cornered the market in funeral provision. Grace is employed as a mute, her particularly sad visage being much in demand whilst Lily is destined to be a lady’s maid, a decision which leaves Grace bewildered but do not worry – all will be revealed in good time!

Yes, this is a novel targeted at young teens but if you appreciate evocative writing, all things Victorian and Gothic, vividly presented characters you will be well rewarded.  I loved the insight into the Victorian fascination with death and mourning especially following the death of Prince Albert.  Even Charles Dickens puts in an appearance, how can you resist!   I’m anxiously awaiting Mary Hooper’s next novel which will be about Victorian Spirtualism – heaven on earth! ;-)

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Review – Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Posted in Historical Fiction, Victorian Mystery on July 27th, 2010 by admin – 2 Comments

This is the first of a three part series featuring Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane – a sort of fluffy Agatha Christie meets Sherlock Holmes and I am quite partial to the odd bit of fluff when reader’s block threatens.

Lady Julia meets Nicholas Brisbane for the first time over the dying body of her husband – a death which later transpires to be suspicious and herein lies the seeds of our romp through Victorian London.  No stone is left unturned in this somewhat haphazard investigation during the course of which Lady Julia establishes herself as a feisty, fearsome heroine who is never really totally sure  of Nicholas Brisbane.

Anonymous letters, gipsy curses, shebeens, whorehouses, class conflict, grave robbing, even a talking raven – all life is here in this witty Victorian mystery. 534 pages fly by in the blink of an eye and you are left anticpating the next two books in the series, Silent in the Sanctuary and Silent on the Moor.  The only jarring note for me was the inclusion of the word “normalcy” in a Victorian England setting but that’s a minor hiccup in an otherwise fluid, comic tale which provided much needed entertainment on a wet summer Sunday in Ireland.

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