Life has been nothing but unfair to Grace Parkes and her sister. Penniless, the two orphans manage to stay alive--but only barely, like so many on the streets of Victorian London. And Grace must bear a greater heartbreak, having become pregnant from terrible circumstances and then given birth to a stillborn baby. But the infant's death sets Grace on a new path, bringing her into contact with people who hold both riches and power. A great fraud has been perpetrated on Grace and her sister, and they are the secret recipients of a most unusual legacy--if only they can find the means to claim it.
Character Development: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8/10
Total Score: 61/70
Obtained: Free ARC provided by publisher.
Age Appropriate? PG-13
Cursing: Limited and mild.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Some drinking/drunkenness, some vague references to drug use.
Sexual Content: Blatant references to rape, prostitution
Disturbing Images/Violence: Rape, poverty, child labor and abuse
A lovely adventure into real-life Victorian London. Grace and Lily were both strong, beautiful characters with a great story full of interesting characters. There was never a dull moment, but the book wasn't overly-consuming. The setting was impeccably crafted, even the squalor and poverty of the London slums. Fascinating and enthralling.
I loved the refreshing take on Victorian London--no magic, little politics, yet still intriguing. I've never read much about the Victorian funeral trade, but it provided a grim background to this grim tale. Hooper does not romanticize the era, but she treats it with the respect of a historian. Well done!
My only complaint about this book is the rather abrupt ending. I do not think there will be a sequel (though I could be wrong) but it seemed to me that, though all the problems were resolved and all the mysteries revealed, we never see Grace's reaction to any of it. We never learn what she decides to do, what her life becomes. And while, yes, the resolution was complete, I cared about her and her sister enough to crave seeing their happiness after so many pages of trial and suffering. As the book was rather short for the breadth of the story it told, I think Hooper could have continued just a bit further.