Monday, 26 January 2015

The Hourglass Factory

The Hourglass Factory
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!

1912.....a Suffragette stunt is all set to make big news, starring notorious trapeze artist Ebony Diamond, but it doesn't. Why? Titanic. Fast forward 6 months and we meet reporter Frankie George, she's determined to make a name in the newspaper business as a reporter, but it's hard to do that when she's given all the assignments for the Ladies Pages. She's sent to interview Ebony, but things don't really go according to plan. Frankie becomes fascinated with her and sets out to find her again....and she the scene of a murder, a murder of someone mistakenly identified as Ebony. Not long after....Ebony disappears mid trapeze performance.

Frankie sets out to find her and who she's afraid of, and the investigation leads her in to the heart of the Suffragettes....their enemies...and the Hourglass Factory. What's really going on? Who is the hidden villain?

Wow. What a debut. I'm still trying to process because this book was truly astounding and I'm actually sad to leave the world. I'm not sure if it's just me, but I find that while we learned about it at school, I actually learned a lot more about the movement from this book, and I think, at least to me, Suffragettes aren't really mentioned much unless it's how the war finally got them the vote. So yeah. I'm glad to see a debut novel bring them back in to the limelight, and quite frankly, this book deserves all the hype I've seen and more!

I was so excited to read this and I wasn't disappointed, I was drawn straight in to the world the author created, I got a real feel for the time, which at times made me want to punch certain...male...characters in the face. The world building is so vivid, you feel you've time travelled back to the period and you're tagging along after the characters!

The world is a vivid and atmospheric one, the characters....well they're a hell of a colourful cast, and I  loved all of them. Particularly Millie and Frankie! It was so easy to connect to Frankie and I loved how she was wandering round London wearing trousers and giving no fucks and I thought the POV changes between her and other characters was flawless and perfectly timed, and the element added to the story. The perspective of a policeman was an intriguing one, particularly as he went about his investigation one way, and Frankie the other!

Back to the colourful cast though. I think Reynolds was a surprise for me, shamefully, I only know what I've picked up from school, books and the odd TV show I've watched on the history channel and so on, so while I knew that there was the mens movement going on, I didn't know there where men who went to prison and where force fed as well, that was an eyeopener. Like I said, I learned a hell of a lot from this book, and all of it was subtle, not pages of information written out to bog down the narrative.

Each character, secondary or not, jumped off the page and became real right in front of your eyes. Like the synopsis says, we get society columnists (Twinkle), corset fetishists (unknown persons of a male persuasion), and circus freaks, I wouldn't really call them freaks though, but I'm assuming this means Milly and co. There was also an abundance of Suffragettes, obviously, and all of them where so well written and in some cases, portrayed.

All of the settings where fantastically described, and helped to suck you in to the world of the book, along with the characters that kept you engaged the entire way through. As the synopsis says, we see the newsrooms of Fleet Street, the Suffragette HQ and the goings on there, Pentonville, a rather...lovely...asylum, and some other fantastic locations. It's a whirlwind journey through old London, and you can't help but be totally fascinated and engrossed in it.

The plot kept you guessing, I gave up trying to work out who the villain was and what was really going on after like the third time I was horrifically wrong! I had no idea what was going to happen next, I had no idea of certain characters connections and most importantly I had no idea who the rather unexpected villain was, and boy was the villains identity unexpected! Total cray cray villain as well. I loved the twists and turns, and the shocks and surprises and it was a fantastically thought out and complex plot.

I'm not going to lie to you all....I am 100% in love with this book. I will sing it's praises all day and all night, and I could talk about it for hours, it's a fantastic angle on Suffragettes and it has it's unique little bits. It's definite re-read and cherish forever territory. A rich and vivid world, colourful characters, intriguing mystery, fantastic prose, with the odd chuckle here and there, it's a fantastic trip to Victorian London. Read it. It's made of awesome. I can't wait to see what the author publishes next!

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