Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Read: June 09, 2014

Thrilling new historical fiction starring a scoundrel with a heart of gold and set in the darkest debtors’ prison in Georgian London, where people fall dead as quickly as they fall in love and no one is as they seem. It’s 1727. Tom Hawkins is damned if he’s going to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a country parson. Not for him a quiet life of prayer and propriety. His preference is for wine, women, and cards. But there’s a sense of honor there too, and Tom won’t pull family strings to get himself out of debt—not even when faced with the appalling horrors of London’s notorious debtors’ prison: The Marshalsea Gaol. Within moments of his arrival in the Marshalsea, Hawkins learns there’s a murderer on the loose, a ghost is haunting the gaol, and that he’ll have to scrounge up the money to pay for his food, bed, and drink. He’s quick to accept an offer of free room and board from the mysterious Samuel Fleet—only to find out just hours later that it was Fleet’s last roommate who turned up dead. Tom’s choice is clear: get to the truth of the murder—or be the next to die.

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Marshalsea Prison
No you aren't imagining it. That is a five star rating up there. I understand it's a bit of a shock, but books like The Devil in the Marshalsea don't come along every day and even I give credit where due.

Hard as it might be to believe, this one sucked me from the start. Author Antonia Hodgson hits the ground running, setting a blistering pace that kept me engaged to the final page, but momentum was far from the deciding factor in my opinion of her work. She also took full advantage of London's disreputable history, creating a chilling and deliciously authentic picture of lower class life in eighteenth-century England.

The story itself is part social commentary and part good old fashioned fiction, but the deft complexity of the novel's construction make it impossible to determine where one ends and the other begins. It's layered, but in such a way that one is hardly aware of its elaborate intricacies. 

The heavy themes and details were balanced by an array of well-defined and distinctly original characters. These individuals were both captivating and memorable despite their questionable virtues and served as a nice counterpoint to the grit of Tom's surroundings and the heightened tension of his situation. 

I could gush all day, but there's really no substitute for firsthand experience. A clever tale of debauchery, villainy and corruption, The Devil in the Marshalsea isn't to be missed.  

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A good secret was better than gold in the Marshalsea – and more deadly than a blade if you used it right.
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Check Out All the Stops on Antonia Hodgson's The Devil in the Marshalsea Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 10
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, June 11
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, June 12
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, June 16
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Friday, June 20
Interview at Reading the Past
Monday, June 23
Guest Post at Kinx’s Book Nook
Wednesday, June 25
Review & Giveaway at Book Nerd
Monday, June 30
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes
Tuesday, July 1
Review at Mina’s Bookshelf
Thursday, July 3
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Monday, July 7
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, July 8
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, July 9
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Friday, July 11
Review at Princess of Eboli
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection


Colleen Turner said...

Wow, 5 stars!!! This is definitely going on the wish list now :)!

Mystica said...

5 Stars and a Georgian setting. Looking out for this.