Tuesday, July 8, 2014

HFVBT: Antonia Hodgson's The Devil in the Marshalsea - Review and {Giveaway}

My thoughts
Wow! That's the word I will use to describe this book. An unputdownable romp into history and the world of a murderer.

Set in 18th century Georgian London and, more specifically, in a debtor's prison called the Marshalsea, this book took me completely by surprise. While I have been reading some great historical titles of late, I'm afraid I found myself getting into a kind of reading slump. This book has definitely pulled me out. It has been awhile since I've read such an atmospheric book. As I was reading, I was visualizing every scene and action as if I was right there in the middle of the action.

One thing that rings true in the book is that the London of this time was a very dangerous place, inside or outside the Marshalsea. Stumble into the wrong side of town and you were lucky to just come away robbed, not murdered. Being on the constant watch for misfortune had to be exhausting. Even more so for our illustrious main character, Tom Hawkins, inside the Marshalsea. Having to find out who murdered a debtor, who just happened to have been his look alike, while rooming with a man who may very well be the killer, Tom is poised on a perilous precipice indeed.

A reader of historical fiction couldn't ask for a more exciting and well-written novel than Hodgson's debut novel. I've heard that this is the first in a planned historical crime series and I really can't wait to read the next one.

About the book
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Formats: eBook, Paperback

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Thrilling new historical fiction starring a scoundrel with a heart of gold and set in the darkest debtors’ prison in Georgian London, where people fall dead as quickly as they fall in love and no one is as they seem.

It’s 1727. Tom Hawkins is damned if he’s going to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a country parson. Not for him a quiet life of prayer and propriety. His preference is for wine, women, and cards. But there’s a sense of honor there too, and Tom won’t pull family strings to get himself out of debt—not even when faced with the appalling horrors of London’s notorious debtors’ prison: The Marshalsea Gaol.

Within moments of his arrival in the Marshalsea, Hawkins learns there’s a murderer on the loose, a ghost is haunting the gaol, and that he’ll have to scrounge up the money to pay for his food, bed, and drink. He’s quick to accept an offer of free room and board from the mysterious Samuel Fleet—only to find out just hours later that it was Fleet’s last roommate who turned up dead. Tom’s choice is clear: get to the truth of the murder—or be the next to die.

Praise for The Devil in the Marshalsea
“Hodgson…conjures up scenes of Dickensian squalor and marries them to a crackerjack plot, in her impressive first novel…Hodgson makes the stench, as well as the despair, almost palpable, besides expertly dropping fair clues. Fans of Iain Pears and Charles Palliser will hope for a sequel.” –Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

“The plot develops almost as many intricate turns as there are passages in the Marshalsea…Hodgson’s plotting is clever…the local color hair-raising.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Satisfyingly twisty debut thriller…so well detailed that one can almost smell the corruption, and the irrepressibly roguish Tom makes a winning hero.” —Booklist

“Historical fiction just doesn’t get any better than this. A riveting, fast-paced story…Magnificent!” —Jeffery Deaver, author of the bestselling The Kill Room and Edge

“Antonia Hodgson’s London of 1727 offers that rare achievement in historical fiction: a time and place suspensefully different from our own, yet real. The Devil in the Marshalsea reminds us at every turn that we ourselves may not have evolved far from its world of debtors and creditors, crime and generosity, appetite and pathos. A damn’d good read.” —Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian and The Swan Thieves

“A wonderfully convincing picture of the seamier side of 18th-century life. The narrative whips along. Antonia Hodgson has a real feel for how people thought and spoke at the time—and, God knows, that’s a rare talent.” —Andrew Taylor, author of An Unpardonable Crime and The Four Last Things

Buy the Book
Amazon CA
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the author
Antonia Hodgson is the editor in chief of Little, Brown UK. She lives in London and can see the last fragments of the old city wall from her living room. The Devil in the Marshalsea is her first novel.

For more information please visit Antonia Hodgson’s website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Twitter.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #DevilintheMarshalSeaTour

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win one (1) of two (2) a copies of The Devil in the Marshalsea! (Open to U.S. only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


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  1. This looks like a wonderful read..I've been seeing it all over the place. Thanks for the giveaway.


  2. The Pillars of the Earth!!!

  3. Kim Nichols- CreeJuly 9, 2014 at 7:30 AM

    The White Princess.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian. It had it all, dual time lines including Italy during WWII and a serial killer on the loose in the '50s.
    Thanks for the giveaway. This book has been on the wish list since I first read a review of it.

  5. I'm glad this one pulled you out of your reading funk! I love it when a book does that!

  6. The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly was captivating and memorable. Thanks for this wonderful giveaway.

  7. Just finished The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick.

  8. The Bungalow by Sarah Jio I love how a author can transport you through their writing!

  9. You have been reviewing a lot of historical fiction that I may actually like. II like the sound of this one, but I think it's the murder part of it. It's the reason I liked The Gods of Gotham.

  10. I haven't read any in a very long time.

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