Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Cursed Wife

Author: Pamela Hartshorne
Genre: Historical Suspense
Type: e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: MacMillan
First Published: April 19, 2018
First Line: "Outside, a blustery wind is shoving clouds across the sun."

Book Description from GoodReads: The Cursed Wife is a page-turning, psychological thriller set in Elizabethan London, by the author of Time's Echo, Pamela Hartshorne.
Mary is content with her life as wife to Gabriel Thorne, a wealthy merchant in Elizabethan London. She loves her husband and her family, is a kind mistress to the household and is well-respected in the neighbourhood. She does her best to forget that as a small girl she was cursed for causing the death of a vagrant child, a curse that predicts that she will hang. She tells herself that she is safe.

But Mary's whole life is based on a lie. She is not the woman her husband believes her to be, and when one rainy day she ventures to Cheapside, the past catches up with her and sets her on a path that leads her to the gibbet and the fulfilment of the curse.

My Rating: 2.5 stars (aka 'just ok')

My Review: The Cursed Wife is touted as an Elizabethan psychological thriller and is my first book by author Pamela Hartshorne. The era was interesting, but I would call this more of a gloomy Historical Fiction read with a titch of suspense and a slight creep factor.

At times, I was engaged in the lives of Cat and Mary, two very different women living in Elizabethan England. But, more often than not, I found the pacing choppy, the writing repetitive (due to Mary and Cat retelling their sides of the same story) and Mary was frustratingly naïve. The reader knows what's going on but much of the book is spent waiting for Mary to finally catch on to what is obviously happening in her own home.

Mary and Cat had a dysfunctional, ruthless, obsessive rivalry. Neither are overly likable at any point in time but at least Cat added some nastiness while Mary just obsessed over her creepy wooden doll and fed into her self-fulfilling prophecy regarding the curse.

I think this book would have been better as a novella. In a shorter format, I think it could have packed more of a punch. Instead, it's a gloomy look at an obsessive and destructive relationship that wasn't suspenseful enough, lacked a strong ending and, unfortunately, won't be a book that stays with me long.

Disclaimer: This Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) was generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. 

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