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.
With thanks to Anne Cater for providing a copy of this book to review for this tour.
I absolutely love the front cover of this book, it is vibrant and striking. The blurb for this book is straight to the point and tells you exactly what the main point of the book is about, without giving away the exciting and gripping story that you are about to read.
The story moves from each chapter to different dates in Cora’s life, you read about her initially but then you learn more about her as a child and how hard her life was, not understanding life and death. How her mind played tricks with her, this was a twist I thought was fascinating.
The time this story was placed in – 1885, was engaging in itself, how people lived, what they wore, how they worked and lived. Carolyn Kirby showed this with clear visual imagery, allowing the reader to become engulfed within the story itself. It seemed like a history lesson and Cora’s life adventure in one, which I thoroughly enjoyed!
I have no doubt if I grew up like Cora, I would act the same way, she is a feisty character and I believe she acted the way she did, due to her surroundings and the people she met. It may have been due to unfortunate circumstances, or could just be that she was one of many girls/women that may have gone through this at that time.
Her involvement with the photographer/scientist was thought-provoking, what he was trying to investigate and prove, was fascinating. With what Cora learns about Violet – the little girl she befriends, along with what else Cora finds out, brings the tension and mystery to another level.
Cora’s exploration to uncover her past and the secrets that lay within, was a journey in itself. Understanding her parents and how that played an important role in her future, was compelling, giving her answers finally that allowed her to move on with her own future, regardless of her past.
I thought the end of Cora’s story was perfect, after everything she had gone through and the future she wanted to create for herself, this final chapter was perfect.
I can’t believe this is Carolyn Kirby’s debut novel! It is an absolute must read! I will be looking out for future books written by the same Author.
Buy it here at Amazon, release date is 21st March 2019.
About the Author
Originally from Sunderland, Carolyn Kirby studied history at St Hilda’s College, Oxford before working for social housing and then as a teacher of English as a foreign language.
Her novel The Conviction of Cora Burns was begun in 2013 on a writing course at Faber Academy in London. The novel has achieved success in several competitions including as finalist in the 2017 Mslexia Novel Competition and as winner of the inaugural Bluepencilagency Award. Carolyn has two grown-up daughters and lives with her husband in rural Oxfordshire.