The Hangman in the Mirror by Kate Cayley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read this book courtesy of Netgalley. I found it an enjoyable and fast paced read, nice and atmospheric and all the more enjoyable for being based on true facts. However it has some flaws too.
It would probably appeal to young adult readers as our heroine is feisty 15 year old Francoise, who lives in poverty in the mid 18th century in Montreal where French settlers struggle to make an honest living.
Francoise in the only surviving child of feckless parents, her ex-soldier father with a love for gambling (but little talent for winning) and her slatternly laundress mother with a fondness for a drop too much alcohol.
The young woman is keen to better herself but unprepared by her parents sees little opportunity to make something of herself, until tragedy strikes and leaves her orphaned and penniless. Deciding to use her wits and her love of words and stories to escape drudgery she manages to become a ladies maid but things still don't go smoothly and she ends up in a worse pickle than she starts in.
This is a nicely written tale but my main gripe is that the main description given by the publishers virtually tell the whole story, as does the title, the part where she has to try and marry the hangman is practically at the end of the book and knowing about it in advance kind of spoilt the story for me. It left little to discover and no mystery. I would have preferred to have been given less information beforehand.
It is extremely predictable too and the only thing which is built up as a kind of mystery is the identity of the would be hangman which is so obvious its almost laughable.
Nevertheless its a nice enough read and pretty well written, reminiscent of books by Mary Hooper, Melanie Gifford and perhaps Libba Bray.
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