Friday, 17 February 2017

Guest Review: The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola
Published in the UK by Tinder Press on the 14th July 2016. Published in America on the 7th February 2017.

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Guest review by Vikki Patis
Vikki Patis is a writer and blogger at The Bandwagon, where she reviews books, interviews authors, and gives her opinions on a wide variety of topics, from feminism to fibromyalgia. I first spotted my current FeministFebruary reading challenge mentioned on The Bandwagon and you can discover Vikki's FF book choices here. She is also a published author and I look forward to reviewing her short story collection Weltenschauung for you soon.

Vikki's rating: 5 of 5 stars

Set in London in 1837, Anna Mazzola's THE UNSEEING is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding. Perfect for any reader of Sarah Waters or Antonia Hodgson.
After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate and consider whether justice has been done. Idealistic, but struggling with his own demons, Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she's hiding something, but needs to discover just why she's maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death?

Vikki says: Here I go again, finding fabulous historical fiction set in Victorian England. First it was The Essex Serpent, now it’s The Unseeing. What a year for readers.

Although this is her debut, Mazzola writes with a practiced hand. She knows her way around the Victorian underworld of poverty, desperation, and depravity like a seasoned historian. She brings Sarah Gale, suspected murderess, to life, her words reaching back and breathing into the past. As a reader, you feel connected to Sarah – her suffering at the hands of James Greenacre, and her twisted involvement in the crime of killing Hannah Brown, only serve to draw you in, to get to know Sarah, as Edmund Fleetwood does.

Not all of Mazzola’s characters are inspired by real people. Edmund is fictional, although someone undoubtedly served in his place to investigate Sarah’s role in Hannah Brown’s murder. But all of her characters are real and incredibly well-written.

The Unseeing is a gritty, glorious debut. Victorian London is dragged to life, with no hint of romanticising the era. One part in particular about fallen women reminded me of The Crimson Petal and The White, and I was delighted to learn via Twitter that Mazzola is a huge fan, of both the book and the BBC adaptation.

Thank you Vikki!

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  1. This sounds really good, and especially appealing as well because there is a BBC adaption to reward yourself with after you're finished! I like the Victorian era as well :3

    1. I didn't know about the BBC adaptation. One to look out for!