Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis

The Butcher's Hook
By Janet Ellis
Published by Two Roads (25 February 2016)
ISBN: 978-1473625112

Publisher's description
Georgian London, in the summer of 1763.
At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher's apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him.
The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead. Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub.

But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.

My verdict
The Butcher's Hook is a dark and twisted 'coming of age' novel set in 18th century gothic London.

Anne Jaccob lives in a wealthy yet gloomy household with a sickly mother, a father who ignores her and staff who tiptoe around her.  Her father arranges to marry her off to a wealthy older man, but Anne has her eye on the local butcher boy Fub instead. This feisty 19-year-old is determined not to bow to her father's wishes, and takes rather drastic measures to make her own dreams come true.

I found it difficult to like Anne, the repressed teenager who gradually learns a lot about love, life and death. Yet she definitely left a lasting impression on me. It soon became clear that Anne isn't as demure and sweet as she first appears, and this is definitely a case of 'girl behaving badly' by the end of the novel. In fact, it seemed to be a novel of two halves, as Anne's personality and outlook on life changed significantly throughout the book.

The Butcher's Hook was certainly not what I was expecting, with its dark and sinister undertones. The story isn't necessarily believable, but the book itself is well written and keeps the plot moving. I do feel it finished a bit too abruptly and would love to know what happened to Anne next. I suspect the story may be continued in Janet Ellis' next book.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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