Saturday, 30 April 2016

Scarlet Widow - Graham Masterton



My Review

I have broken my own unwritten rule of reading mainly books by female authors as the write up for this new book by Graham Masterton seems to tick all my boxes, historical setting mid 18th century TICK, strong feisty female heroine TICK, lots of twisty mysteries to solve TICK. And its not like I haven't read and enjoyed a few spooky horror tales by this author before So here I go...

This is an about face for one of the great masters of horror fiction and would seem to be the perfect beginning to an exciting new series of historical mystery/ crime books featuring Beatrice Scarlet the apothecary's daughter, born in England, brought up by her experimental apothecary father with an inexhaustible knowledge and love of herbal medicine and unusual remedies.

Orphaned at 16 and brought up by her Aunt in the mid 1700s she meets and marries preacher Francis Scarlet and emigrates with him to America where she lives a sober life as a Goodwife enjoying making home for her husband and caring for her beloved little son Noah.

When strange events begin happening in the locality which seem to have the mark of the devil or witchcraft, she uses her scientific knowledge and begins to investigate, her suspicions fall on enigmatic yet sinister stranger to town, Jonathan Shooks. As events turn more and more dreadful and horrific her own life and those of her family begin to be in danger.

I often find it somewhat difficult to accept a leading female role written by a man and feel that it shows through in the writing. Beatrice is feisty and educated for a woman in this era which is fine but I agree with a couple of other reviewers that just one particularly nasty and very seedy unnecessary scene, almost taints the whole book and in my mind this could only have been written so insensitively by a man.

However the rest of the book is really gripping and compelling so I'm prepared to overlook this and will certainly read the next in this series as I'm longing to know what life has in store for Beatrice and I'm sure it will present her with more unusual goings on to keep things mysterious and thrilling.

My thanks go to Netgalley for my advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Blurb

London, 1750: Beatrice Scarlet is the apothecary's daughter. She can mix medicines and herbs to save the lives of her neighbours - but, try as she might, she can't save the lives of her parents. An orphan at just sixteen, Beatrice marries a preacher and emigrates to America.

New Hampshire, 1756: In the farming community where Beatrice now lives, six pigs are found viciously slaughtered, slices of looking-glass embedded in their mouths. According to scripture this is the work of Satan, but Beatrice suspects the hands of men. As she closes in on the killer, she must act quickly to unmask him - or become the next victim herself...

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