The year is 1831
Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and no one is willing to speak out on behalf of the city's vulnerable poor as they disappear from the streets.
Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible.
When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock. But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations.
Hester and Rebekah find themselves crossing every boundary they've ever known in pursuit of truth, redemption and passion. But their trust in each other will be tested as a web of deceit begins to unspool, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking . . .
This book is a real example of the kind of story I am living for at the moment. Set in The late Georgian period, lots of historical detail about living conditions and medicine and featuring an awesome female led. Books are my bag ... this book is definitely my bag. I loved it and want more from Laura Carlin now.
The story itself is slow. That's not a problem as such but probably not the sort of book to read at the end of a long and stressful day and rather the sort of book I would make time to to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon when I have the luxury of time to really devote to it.
The social historian in me adored the real sense of period you get from this novel. Set in the late Georgian period the rich detail gives the reader a real sense of what life was like for ordinary people living on the absolute period and in conditions that we've come to equate with Victorian England of squalid slums and extreme poverty. The sheer desperation of the characters is heart breaking as she get a real idea what what real abject poverty is for people who are forced into a situation through no fault of their own and for whom there is no way out. You also see how easy it is for someone doing ok in the period to have their fortunes change quickly with no hope of clawing their way back to the life they once had.
I found myself geeking out on more that one occasion over the medical history details and snippets that came with the look at the living conditions of the poor. The utter horror of the threat of disease caused by the afore mentioned living conditions is unfathomable and you can see how this could make people's outlook bleak and attitude towards death and disease far different to our own.
I loved the main character Hester and following her story. I love stories about strong female characters especially those striving to do their best in a world that is fully against them and this is definitely the case as she is trying to survive in a world where her opinions count for little due to her sex and the sexist views of the time period. I won't go much into it for fear of spoilers but the book also features a lesbian relationship which I adored.
All in all a really lovely read from a promising new author. I cannot wait to see what she does next.