Thursday, 16 April 2009

Review: Newes from the Dead

It is 1650 and a baby lies dead before it even drew breath. A young servant girl, terrified and alone, is accused of its murder and sent to the gallows. Protesting her innocence in the chill air of a December morning, Anne Green is hanged. Moments later her lifeless body is lifted down from the scaffold and carried to the College of Physicians for brutal dissection.

But as Anne's corpse lies on the table and the doctors assemble, a strange rattle is heard in her throat.

Could she still be alive?

"Newes from the Dead" by Mary Hooper was... different. It was different to books I've read recently. I was initially intrigued by this book. The blurb is quite interesting but the last question, "Could she still be alive?" is answered by the text on the front cover, "The true tale of a girl who survived the gallows." I like historical fiction because of its ability to take you to another era that you could only otherwise imagine through pictures. Don't you love how books can create different pictures in your head to those that others have when they read the same book? That's part of the beauty of books, but I'm rambling.

Anyway, what intrigued me about this book was how Hooper was going to make an entire book based on one girl's hanging. It was done by describing the events leading up to the death and the events afterwards.

The book was written from two different character's perspectives. The first view is that of the victim, Anne Green. The second view is that of Robert Matthews, a scholar of New College, Oxford. Robert is present at the dissection and is therefore an important character in the book. This split account of events works. Anne can reflect on what happened and Robert is like the eyes, he describes what happens when Anne is unconscious.

I enjoyed the plot of this book and liked the main character, Anne Green. Her only flaw is dreaming of a better life and being misled.

It took me a while to get in to this book but once I did, I was pretty much hooked I was able to put the book down, but every so often I found my nose back in it. The verdict? Pick it up if you like historical fiction or you just fancy giving it a try. I'm glad I did.

Characters: 9/10

Plot: 8/10

Hookability (ability to keep you reading): 8/10

Total: 25/30

And one more thing: the back cover says its "Not Suitable for Younger Readers"

(There are some mild sexual references/scenes but nothing too bad)


  1. Great review! Mary Hooper is one of my favourite authors and yet I've never read any of her historical fiction, and I know I should. This book has been intriguing me for ages - I keep nearly buying it! I think I will finally buy it now. Thank you very much; it's so interesting to hear your thoughts on it.

  2. Hmm, this sounds interesting. Weird but interesting!

  3. I think I might have to get this, it sounds pretty good. Hmm... another one for the ever-growing wish list!

  4. This does sound really interesting. I'll definitely have to go pick it up. Thanks for the review 8)

  5. Chicklish - thanks and I hope you get the chance to read it.

    So Many Books, So Little Time - it was alright, although definitely different.

    Prophecygirl - I hope you are able to read a copy.

    Mishel - thank you and I hope you manage to get a copy.

  6. Hello Kate,
    Thanks for the excellent review of my book.
    Very best wishes,
    Mary Hooper xx

  7. You're welcome!
    I really enjoyed it :)

  8. I am half way reading it and i just wanted to as about the title which i really do not understand. Newes is spelt diffrently it has an extra e and i wondered if there was a motive for it. Either way the book is so far very good and i am eager to read on. I feel sympathy for poor Robert who has trouble speaking and for Anne being so easily decieved.

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  10. Hello, you came to our school St Philomenas in Carshalton, i have finished reading your book and enjoyed it so much, i couldn't stop crying in the end. I have recently used it to find Quotations for English and read the ending again and just like before i couldn't stop crying! i have never cryed at a book before!
    Emily x
    do u have anymore books like this one?

  11. Great book review. I may just have to read it on my own as I also love historical fiction.

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  13. You gave this quite high review ratings. I might have to see if the library has this laying around.