I review The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola for the Lovereading review panel.
Many thanks to the publisher for providing a free review copy.
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.
‘With this intricately woven tale of trust, self-trust and deceit, Anna Mazzola brings a gritty realism to Victorian London. Beautifully written and cleverly plotted, this is a stunning debut, ranked amongst the best’ MANDA SCOTT
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?
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.
The Unseeing is due out in July, and it is not to be missed.