Monday, 10 September 2012

Review: Newes from the Dead

It is 1650 and a baby lies dead before it even drew breath. A young servant girl, terrified and alone, is accused of its murder and sent to the gallows. Protesting her innocence in the chill air of a December morning, Anne Green is hanged. Moments later her lifeless body is lifted down from the scaffold and carried to the College of Physicians for brutal dissection.

But as Anne's corpse lies on the table and the doctors assemble, a strange rattle is heard in her throat.

Could she still be alive?

"Newes from the Dead" by Mary Hooper was... different. It was different to books I've read recently. I was initially intrigued by this book. The blurb is quite interesting but the last question, "Could she still be alive?" is answered by the text on the front cover, "The true tale of a girl who survived the gallows." I like historical fiction because of its ability to take you to another era that you could only otherwise imagine through pictures. Don't you love how books can create different pictures in your head to those that others have when they read the same book? That's part of the beauty of books, but I'm rambling.

Anyway, what intrigued me about this book was how Hooper was going to make an entire book based on one girl's hanging. It was done by describing the events leading up to the death and the events afterwards.

The book was written from two different character's perspectives. The first view is that of the victim, Anne Green. The second view is that of Robert Matthews, a scholar of New College, Oxford. Robert is present at the dissection and is therefore an important character in the book. This split account of events works. Anne can reflect on what happened and Robert is like the eyes, he describes what happens when Anne is unconscious.

I enjoyed the plot of this book and liked the main character, Anne Green. Her only flaw is dreaming of a better life and being misled.

It took me a while to get in to this book but once I did, I was pretty much hooked I was able to put the book down, but every so often I found my nose back in it. The verdict? Pick it up if you like historical fiction or you just fancy giving it a try. I'm glad I did.

Characters: 9/10

Plot: 8/10

Hookability (ability to keep you reading): 8/10

Total: 25/30

And one more thing: the back cover says its "Not Suitable for Younger Readers"

(There are some mild sexual references/scenes but nothing too bad)

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