Monday, 24 November 2014
One of my fav books of 2014, The Executioner's Daughter by Jane Hardstaff
I love historical fiction. I'm mad on the works of Bernard Cornwell (have read every Sharpe novel there is), then there's the Viking sagas by Giles Kristian and the detective series featuring Shardlake, a hunchback detective during the reign of Henry VIII.
While historical fiction is alive and kicking in the adult market it's not quite as popular in the children's?YA field. Sure, this year there are plenty of books on WW1 but that's to be expected. Books centred around the school curriculum are also relatively easy to find but I've rarely read any that make me BELIEVE I am in that world.
The past is a world you cannot travel to, but yet feels familiar. Even more so when it's set in your home town, in this case, London.
Setting is one thing, but character is what makes a story live.
Jane Hardstaff (can't believe it's her debut!) nails both, perfectly.
It's set during the Tudor period and Moss is the daughter of the executioner of the Tower of London. Life's not straightforward when your dad chops people's heads off for a living and your job is to collect them.
What blew me away is the authenticity of Moss's voice. She is REAL.You utterly believe she is more than words on a page, more than black ink. She lives and breathes and has wishes and desires like all of us. There's no artifice in her, nor in Jane's writing. You don't stop to ponder this is merely a story, or written by a person in today's world who's just made Moss up in her head. Some historical fiction prides itself on being clever. It wants us to marvel at the depth of research, the dedication of the author. It wants us to ponder at all the hard work the writer's put in. Hold on. But to me, the only measure of a story is how deeply you fall into its world.
I really cannot recommend this book highly enough. The sequel is due out soon and I'm pestering everyone I know to get me a copy asap.
So, take a break from the wizards, vampires and dragons and immerse yourself into the life of The Executioner's Daughter.