Happy April! Although today is April Fools Day, what I have for you is no joke! A fantastically dark debut by Carolyn Kirby… Today, I am on a Random Things Blog Tour for The Conviction of Cora Burns.
Set in 1880s Birmingham, Carolyn Kirby’s stunning debut The Conviction of Cora Burns tells the story of Cora, a young woman born in a prison to a convicted criminal she never knew but from whom she fears she has inherited a violent nature. Perfect for fans of Sarah Schmidt, Anna Mazzola and Hannah Kent.
Cora was born in a prison. But is this where she belongs?
Born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her.
Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood.
Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment. But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?
With the power and intrigue of Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions and Sarah Schmidt’s See What I Have Done, Carolyn Kirby’s stunning debut takes the reader on a heart-breaking journey through Victorian Birmingham and questions where we first learn violence: from our scars or from our hearts.
Official blurb for The Conviction of Cora Burns.
If you have read some of my reviews in the past, you will know I am a HUGE fan of historical fiction, particularly in the neo-Victorian metafiction clique. After reading infamous novels of that genre, such as Sarah Waters’ Affinity and Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, I was truly excited to be on a blog tour for a historical fiction debut set in one of the most fascinating times in history: the Victorian era.
In Kirby’s novel we meet Cora. She is not your average Victorian heroin. She is Cora, born in a gaol, subject to the brutal nature of the nineteenth century. As luck would have it, Cora begins a new adventure in her life, but things aren’t always as they seem. As the past begins to resurface, there is a mystery waiting around every corner.
I really enjoyed the writing style- the third person narrative gave a birds-eye-view of the plot and characters, leading the reader to be consumed by a dark and twisted atmosphere. There are also snippets of other voices which only adds to the mystery as the puzzle comes to light in a tense climax.
Cora is a very interesting character as although she is the novel’s protagonist, she may not be as trustworthy as we would like her to be. The reader faces a dilemma as although Cora seems innocent by nature, something lurks in the background, even though the whispers of the other characters. She is, however, a stimulating character that motivates the reader into carrying on the story. I was racing to get to the end of this ambitious debut!
The gothic nature of the novel was incredibly prominent, echoing gothic novels of the time and reflecting on the dark setting. I was amazed at the level of detail and imagery Kirby managed to squeeze in, yet it did not distract from the plot or characters. Kirby has delicately weaved a disturbing novel of secrets, lies, and how we are crafted by our past and actions…
Any fan of historical fiction will love this thrilling neo-Victorian masterpiece. If you have enjoyed works by Sarah Waters, A. S. Byatt, and Jane Harris, then this is perfect for you! This book isn’t a wishy-washy fantasy that some Victorian novels gloss over- oh no- this novel tackles the era’s most violent histories and surfaces issues that history seems to have forgotten. If you want to try your hand at historical fiction, I would recommend this book immediately as you get it all! It will open your eyes to a beautifully twisted novel and the shadows lying in human nature. A wonderful edition to my bookshelf (the artwork is gorgeous as well!)
Thank you to Anne Carter from Random Things Blog Tours for my place on the blog tour and my copy of The Conviction of Cora Burns. Always a pleasure working with you! Thank you also to Carolyn Kirby.
How to get your hands on a copy
Join the conversation! #CoraBurns @noexitpress
NO EXIT PRESS website
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour below!
Happy reading! Lx
Feature image: Books Beyond The Story
All other images: courtesy of Anne Carter