Book Review: The Quietness by Alison Rattle


When fifteen-year-old Queenie escapes from the squalid slums of nineteenth-century London, she has no idea about the dangers of the dark world she is about to become embroiled in. Initially thrilled at being taken on as a maid for the seemingly respectable Waters sisters, Queenie comes to realise that something is very wrong with the dozens of strangely silent babies being 'adopted' into the household.

Meanwhile, lonely and unloved sixteen-year-old Ellen is delighted when her handsome and charming young cousin Jacob is sent to live with her family. She thinks she has finally found a man to fall in love with and rely on, but when Jacob cruelly betrays her she finds herself once again at the mercy of her cold-hearted father. Soon the girls' lives become irrevocably entwined in this tension-filled drama. THE QUIETNESS is a novel of friendship and trust in the darkest of settings (from Goodreads.com)

I love a Victorian historical novel, and Mary Hooper is an author I enjoy very much. Sounding incredibly similar, this book really appealed to me.

The Quietness follows two girls from seemingly opposite ends of Victorian society. Ellen is the daughter of a prominent surgeon, while Queenie's drunken father sells fruit while he's on the wagon and her mother sells her body when he's fallen off, to feed her children. What's interesting is that first appearances aren't always as they seem, and I was surprised by where my pity lay.

This is a pretty dark tale, covering subjects such as prostitution, rape and the horrific Victorian practice of baby farming. I found the dual narrative and short snappy chapters made this a fast paced, easy read which I finished in a couple of sittings. However, I found it a bit predictable, if I'm honest, and the characters quite clichéd and stereotypical. I was particularly disappointed in Queenie's character, and she didn't gain my sympathy or understanding the way she should have. I guessed the major twist very early on, however there was another thrown in right at the end which did leave me reeling.

I wanted to love this book more than I actually did. That's not to say it's a bad book, it's not at all and the author certainly shows promise and will be one I look out for in the future. If you're a fan of Mary Hooper and Eve Edwards, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this one too.

Published March 2013 by Hot Key Books (UK)

Book Review: Undone by Cat Clarke


Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she's learning to live with it. 

Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online ... and he kills himself.

Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down. 

A searing story of love, revenge and betrayal from a bestselling author. (from Goodreads.com)

I'm a big Cat Clarke fan. I remember when her first book, Entangled, first made it's way out in the world and being lucky enough to have an early read. I, like many others, was blown away. Third novel, Undone proves this was no one off. Cat Clarke officially is a established favourite.

Undone tackles homophobia, suicide, grief, self esteem, bullying and revenge. While Jem isn't always likable, she's scarily relatable. With twists and turns Clarke constantly keeps you questioning stereotypes. It's impossible to decide who the bad guys are here, as in real life there's so many layers and grey areas. Undone isn't an easy book to read, it's heart wrenchingly sad. Brutally so. And then the ending! Wow.  It left me  completely stunned and staring at the last page in shock. I'm warning you now, you will NEED tissues. Lots of them. I really don't want to give anything away so I'm being purposefully vague, but believe me, you'll thank me for that.

Cat Clarke has an extraordinary gift. Not only is she a talented writer, who takes difficult and currant subjects and tackles them with grit and integrity, but she manages to capture her characters so perfectly it's at times unnerving. We may not have experienced the same situations, but reading Cat's novels I constantly feel this woman has somehow managed to creep into my mind, I recognise a tiny bit of myself in there at times  and I recognise other people I know too. Every painful, hopeful, tragic or uplifting emotion is crafted so that the reader, whatever age, identifies with and feels it with a shockingly real intensity   I can't recommend this book enough. In fact, if you've yet to read any of Cat Clarke's I urge you to go and do so now. You won't regret it.

*Because of the themes and some pretty harrowing scenes, I'd probably suggest this is best suited for teens age 13 up*

Published by Quercus, January 2013
Thank you Quercus for sending me the book for review purposes.




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