The Unseeing – Anna Mazzola


The Unseeing was published in paperback on 26 January 2017 by Tinder Press and is available to buy here

Set in London in 1837, Anna Mazzola’s THE UNSEEING is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding. Perfect for any reader of Sarah Waters or Antonia Hodgson.

‘A twisting tale of family secrets and unacknowledged desires. Intricately plotted and extremely convincing in its evocation of the everyday realities of 1830s London, this is a fine first novel’ – The Sunday Times

After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate and consider whether justice has been done. Idealistic, but struggling with his own demons, Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death?

Check out Anna Mazzola’s website for more information about The Unseeing and The Edgware Road Murder.

My thoughts

If there is one book to shout about this year, it must be The Unseeing.

The Unseeing by debut author Anna Mazzola is quite simply a masterpiece in storytelling. It is based on a real life murder from 1837, that shocked Victorian Britain. This was the Edgware Road Murder of 1837. Mazzola has used dramatic license to bring this story to life.

It is 1837 and Queen Victoria is ascending to the throne. The papers are full of the death of Hannah Brown, a case that has disgusted and shaken the nation. Hannah Brown has been found mutilated. Her body cut up and disposed of across the capital, in a gruesome and brutal manner. James Greenacre has been accused of murdering Hannah, together with his lover, Sarah Gale. Greenacre and Gale have been given the death sentence. We meet Sarah Gale, as she is left to await the results of her appeal for mercy. She is stuck in a damp, squalid cell at Newgate prison. To make matters worse, Sarah Gale has said very little at the trial or to explain what took place. She has been judged accordingly, especially as a fallen woman. Fallen women are capable of anything, apparently.

The story follows Gale, as she meets lawyer, Edmund Fleetwood. Fleetwood is charged with looking into this high profile murder by the Home Secretary and reinvestigating what took place. He interviews Sarah Gale, views the evidence and tries to piece together the circumstances behind the death of Hannah Brown. Is Gale guilty? Is she just the victim of James Greenacre, her sometime common law husband? Will Gale finally spill her secrets?

The beauty of The Unseeing is in the exquisite writing. Mazzola brings Victorian Britain to life; with its poverty, its brutal criminal justice system and the bleak choices for women. No one can read this book without being profoundly moved and fascinated. This is a dark tale, intelligently and creatively told. At it’s heart, a terrible event and a woman waiting to hear whether she will be publicly hung. England abolished the death penalty back in 1965. 1837 was a time, when watching the hanging of a celebrity murderer was a kind of perverse entertainment.

Do not miss The Unseeing! It is perfection in a historical crime novel. You will reluctantly return to the present day, on the last page. You will find yourself Googling the 1837 Edgware Road murder, checking out the recorded courtroom transcripts and reflecting on the death penalty.

Highly recommended to all!

About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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6 Responses to The Unseeing – Anna Mazzola

  1. I’ve been umming and aahing about this book for ages now but your fab review has convinced me that I need to read this soon. I got some Amazon vouchers for my birthday so I think I’ll treat myself to this today! 🙂

  2. I’m totally with you – this was a brilliant recreation of a crime with some imaginative additions to the facts – loved it!

  3. I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Unseeing – can’t wait to read it!

  4. crimeworm says:

    I’ve heard great things about this one – I must get to it! Laughed at your comment about fallen women – you’re so drily funny, Christine! Hope you’re well; l must DM you! Had a wee op there on my hip so I’m a bit incapacitated. Right I need to catch up on your other reviews!

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