Anne Bonny Top 5 #Victorian Era #Historical Picks from the TBR pile @JessKiddHerself @storyjoy @claireevans113 @paraicodonnell @And_Hughes @canongatebooks @BloomsburyRaven @wnbooks @BooksSphere @TransworldBooks

***Some titles I am DYING to read from the mammoth TBR pile, in no particular order***

things in jars
Things In Jars by Jess Kidd
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible
Synopsis ~

London, 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet. Reeling from her last job and with her reputation in tatters, a remarkable puzzle has come her way. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist.

As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Anomalies are in fashion, curiosities are the thing, and fortunes are won and lost in the name of entertainment. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen.

Things in Jars is an enchanting Victorian detective novel that explores what it is to be human in inhumane times.

the anarchists club
The Anarchists’ Club by Alex Reeve – Leo Stanhope #2
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible – PB in March 2020
Synopsis ~

It’s been a year since Leo Stanhope lost the woman he loved, and came closing to losing his own life. Now, more than ever, he is determined to keep his head down and stay safe, without risking those he holds dear. But Leo’s hopes for peace and security are shattered when the police unexpectedly arrive at his lodgings: a woman has been found murdered at a club for anarchists, and Leo’s address is in her purse. When Leo is taken to the club by the police, he is shocked to discover there a man from his past, a man who knows Leo’s birth identity. And if Leo does not provide him with an alibi for the night of the woman’s killing, he is going to share this information with the authorities.

If Leo’s true identity is unmasked, he will be thrown into an asylum, but if he lies… will he be protecting a murderer?

the fourteenth letter
The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible/PB
Synopsis ~

Phoebe Stanbury was killed in the summer of secrets…

One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family and ascend to polite society.

As she takes her fiancé’s hand, a stranger holding a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl’s life. Amid the chaos, he turns to her aristocratic groom and mouths:
‘I promised I would save you.’

The following morning, just a few miles away, timid young legal clerk William Lamb meets a reclusive client. He finds the old man terrified and in desperate need of aid: William must keep safe a small casket of yellowing papers, and deliver an enigmatic message: The Finder knows.

With its labyrinth of unfolding mysteries, Claire Evans’ riveting debut will be adored by fans of Kate Mosse, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Jessie Burton.

the house on vesper sands
The House On Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell
Available in HB/Ebooks/Audible/PB
Synopsis ~

‘Ladies and gentlemen, the darkness is complete.’

It is the winter of 1893, and in London the snow is falling.

It is falling as Gideon Bliss seeks shelter in a Soho church, where he finds Angie Tatton lying before the altar. His one-time love is at death’s door, murmuring about brightness and black air, and about those she calls the Spiriters. In the morning she is gone.

The snow is falling as a seamstress climbs onto a ledge above Mayfair, a mysterious message stitched into her own skin. It is falling as she steadies herself and closes her eyes.

It is falling, too, as her employer, Lord Strythe, vanishes into the night, watched by Octavia Hillingdon, a restless society columnist who longs to uncover a story of real importance.

She and Gideon will soon be drawn into the same mystery, each desperate to save Angie and find out the truth about Lord Strythe. Their paths will cross as the darkness gathers, and will lead them at last to what lies hidden at the house on Vesper Sands.

the convictions of john delahunt
The Convictions Of John Delahunt by Andrew Hughes
Available in HB/Ebook/PB
Synopsis ~

On a cold December morning in 1841, a small boy is enticed away from his mother and his throat savagely cut. But when the people of Dublin learn why John Delahunt committed this vile crime, the outcry leaves no room for compassion. His fate is sealed, but this feckless Trinity College student and secret informer for the authorities in Dublin Castle seems neither to regret what he did nor fear his punishment. Sitting in Kilmainham Gaol in the days leading up to his execution, Delahunt tells his story in a final, deeply unsettling statement . . .

Dublin in the mid-19th century was a city on the edge – a turbulent time of suspicion and mistrust and the scent of rebellion against the Crown in the air, Beautifully written, brilliantly researched and with a seductive sense of period and place, this unnervingly compelling novel boasts a colourful assortment of characters: from carousing Trinity students, unscrupulous lowlifes and blackmailers to dissectionists, phrenologists and sinister agents of Dublin Castle who are operating according to their own twisted rules. And at its heart lie the doomed John Delahunt and Helen, his wife. Unconventional, an aspiring-writer and daughter of an eminent surgeon, she pursued Delahunt, married him and thereby ruined her own life. And as for Delahunt himself, we follow him from elegant ballrooms and tenement houses to taverns, courtrooms and to the impoverished alleyways where John Delahunt readily betrays his friends, his society and ultimately, himself.

Anne Bonny #BookReview Himself by @JessKiddHerself 4* @canongatebooks A brilliant, unique and quirky novel!

Himself by Jess Kidd

When Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland’s west coast, he brings only a photograph of his long-lost mother and a determination to do battle with the lies of his past.

No one – living or dead – will tell Mahony what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby, despite his certainty that more than one of the villagers knows the sinister truth.

Between Mulderrig’s sly priest, its pitiless nurse and the caustic elderly actress throwing herself into her final village play, this beautiful and darkly comic debut novel creates an unforgettable world of mystery, bloody violence and buried secrets.

A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice
Shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards 2016
Shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2017
Longlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2017

My Review:

It would be fair to say that Jess Kidd has an over-active imagination; I mean this 100% in the positive and creative way, in which authors write and bring to life amazing characters. The characters are intense, brilliantly written and definitely memorable. I can easily see why Himself was a BBC2 book club choice.
I just wish I had gotten around to reading it much sooner!

‘For Mulderrig is a place like no other’

The novel takes place between to timeframes. The build up and eventual death of a teenage mum in 1950 and the 1976 era, when the son returns to Mulderrig. It is a very unique and quirky novel, one that I could see appealing to a wide-range of readers.

‘People are born to live and stay and die here’

The prologue opens in 1950, with the savage murder of a teenage mother. Her baby escapes the scene, as her killer holds her as she is dying. It is eerie, evil and a scene that sticks in your head throughout the novel.

The novel then jumps forward in time to 1976, where we meet 29yr old Mahony. He receives some documents that lead him to Mulderrig and the past he has never known. But Mahony is not your usual protagonist, as Mahony can see the dead…..

‘For the dead are always close by in a life like Mahony’s’

In the documents he receives are a photo of a young girl and a sealed letter, which reads…..
“Your name is Francis Sweeney. Your mummy was Orla Sweeney. You are from Mulderrig, Co. Mayo. This is a picture of yourself and her. For your information she was the curse of the town, so they took her from you. They all lie, so watch yourself, and know that your mammy loved you”

Mahony quickly notes the ‘was’ in the text and believes the past tense must mean his mother is no longer alive. Mahony has never known any of his past, of his birth mother or father. He has endured a tough and often abusive upbringing by nuns. He is desperate to learn more, and this leads him to Mulderrig. Upon arriving in the small town, he is quickly acquainted with local barman Tadhg Kerrigan. Tadhg gives Mahony snippets of information regarding the other locals.

Mahony finds himself at Rathmore House, the only place that will put up an outsider. The town is full of bizarre characters both dead and alive. But it is at Rathmore House, that Mahony meets Mrs Cauley, an eccentric elderly woman with a superb outlook on life. Mrs Cauley is quick witted, blunt and at times rather rude.
I instantly liked her. I loved her rebellious approach to life, I think there is a lot we can all learn from Mrs Cauley.

Mrs Cauley has been a resident of Mulderrig the last 20yrs. She is striking, right from her first encounter, when she demands to meet Mahony. They instantly bond and hatch together a plan to solve the mystery. She is well aware of Mahony’s ability to see the dead and this becomes a topic of conversation. For if Mahony can see the dead, why can’t he see his mother?

We quickly become aware that Mahony’s mother Orla was Mulderrig’s dirty secret. That she was loathed for being an unwed mother and often referred to as wild or bad. But we also learn that Orla was a fighter, who did not give up on her baby.

‘She defied the town and everyone in it’

There are chapters scattered throughout that explore Orla’s life, the abuse she suffered makes for alarming reading. This was after all, just a 16yr old girl.
I really hoped that Mahony and Mrs Cauley got the answers they so desperately sought. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, Orla would get some justice, at last.

As the plot moves around the various characters, we discover that the author truly is genius. From Tom Bogey the local hermit to Father Eugene Quinn the weasel faced priest. All the characters are truly unique and at times, I began to ask myself, how does the author think these characters up?

The investigation formed by Mahony and Mrs Cauley is the main basis of the novel. It is dark, intriguing and at times absolutely hilarious. Which can be no easy job, so huge credit to the author for weaving comedy amongst the backdrop of a sinister crime. I absolutely LOVED the characters and look forward to becoming reacquainted with Jess Kidd’s over-active imagination in her next novel The Hoarder. 4*

Jess Kidd

Also available. . . . . 
cover 2
Hoarder by Jess Kidd

Maud Drennan – underpaid carer and unintentional psychic – is the latest in a long line of dogsbodies for the ancient, belligerent Cathal Flood. Yet despite her best efforts, Maud is drawn into the mysteries concealed in his filthy, once-grand home. She realises that something is changing: Cathal, and the junk-filled rooms, are opening up to her.

With only her agoraphobic landlady and a troop of sarcastic ghostly saints to help, Maud must uncover what lies beneath Cathal’s decades-old hostility, and the strange activities of the house itself. And if someone has hidden a secret there, how far will they go to ensure it remains buried?