Daughters Of Night has to be one of the most talked-about new releases of 2021, and it’s certainly one of my most excitedly anticipated books. Reading this highly acclaimed novel is an experience I’m going to savour. In this short feature I try to do justice to exactly why I’m looking forward to this so much.
what it says on the cover …
From the brothels and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Daughters of Nightfollows Caroline Corsham, as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget …
London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly-paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker, Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.
But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous than she can know . . .
PUBLISHED: 18th February 2021
SHELF: historical fiction | mystery
AUTHOR: Laura Shepherd-Robinson
PUBLISHER: Mantle Books (Pan Macmillan)
FORMATS: Hardback | Kindle | Audiobook
Daughters Of Night is the second novel by the award-winning author, Laura Shepherd-Robinson; a book whose publication was delayed twice because of Covid. So by the time it finally hit the shelves on 18th February, it would be fair to say the anticipation in the book-world had reached fever pitch. The excitement and demand was so intense, that copies of Daughters Of Night were snapped up at an astonishing rate, leaving some retailers with empty shelves for short time! I was incredibly lucky to be sent an early proof copy by Rosie Wilson … a copy I have lifted from its cosseted place on my shelves to stroke, and sniff and fan the pages.
Whilst this isn’t a sequel as such, Daughters Of Night picks up a few characters from Blood & Sugar, with Caroline Corsham taking centre stage. Once again, readers will be transported to a lavishly-written Georgian London – whilst Blood & Sugar was a murder mystery set at the heart of the slave trade, Daughters of Night brings the bawdy hustle of courtesans and libertines to vivid, immersive life in a 600-page extravaganza.
Daughters Of Night is a book that I’ve been dying to read. I may have missed the publication day, but this is a novel I have absolutely no intention of rush-reading. I want to take the time to lose myself in its pages, soaking up the rich opulence of historical details, unsettling realities, and really getting to know the wonderful (and not so wonderful) cast of characters. Having loved Blood & Sugar SO much, I plan to make my reading of Daughters Of Night an indulgence … there will be wine and probably chocolate, there will be a cosy corner, and there will be a reverent hush.
a little teaser from chapter one
In the wrong hands a secret is a weapon.
Caroline Corsham was alive to the danger, to the vulnerability of her position – she had thought of little else since last night’s disaster. Yet now that the truth was known – her secret guessed, the blade honed sharp – what choice did she have left, except to believe? A last roll of the dice. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. These banalities spurred her on. God grant me courage.
Taking a ginger comfit from her enamelled pillbox, Caro slipped it into her mouth, her nausea rising. Muslin, lace and brocade hemmed her in on every side; jewelled buttons flashing on embroidered waistcoats; pastel shades of periwig and kid glove; silver buckles glinting in the light of a thousand beeswax candles that filled the domed roof of the Rotunda with their honeyed scent. It was the opening night of Jacobus Agnetti’s exhibition of classical scenes, and half of London society had turned out for the wretched man. Distractedly, she greeted people she knew: allies of her husband in the House of Commons; clients of the Craven Bank; rival beauties, solicitous matrons, admiring gentlemen. Their laughter was shrill, pink faces merged in a smear of complacency. They smile to bare their teeth, before they rip you apart.
A young baronet was explaining some technical aspect of the pairings to her, though she doubted he’d ever held a brush in his life. Gazing around the Rotunda, the canvases encircled her in one endless, bloody spectacle. Men in helmets killing one another, killing monsters, killing women. The rape of Lucretia Medea slaughtering her infant children. By our death or our dishonour or our sins.
Her skin was hot as Hades. Her fears clamoured at her like a Greek chorus. She glanced at the clock on the Rotunda wall.
It was time.
‘I would gamble what’s left of my virtue on Daughters of Night being the best historical crime novel I will read this year.’
Antonia Senior of The Times
‘Top-drawer historical fiction meets compulsive, just-one-more-chapter crime. Expertly plotted, gloriously grisly, with characters who stomp around your brain long after you turn the last page. In other words, masterful.‘
Caz Frear, author of Sweet Little Lies and Shed No Tears
‘Here’s one where the pages turn all by themselves and the plot doesn’t let you go.‘
Diane Setterfield, author of Once Upon a River
‘A dark, fascinating and richly imagined world – brilliantly done!
Ruth Ware, author of One By One and In a Dark, Dark Wood‘
‘A masterfully plotted labyrinth of a novel with a dangerously dark heart, teeming with memorable characters. Eighteenth-century London seethes from the page. I loved it.’
Robyn Young, author of Brethren and the Insurrection trilogy
‘Shepherd-Robinson’s ingenious plotting, eagle eye for detail and evocative prose picked me up and dropped me in the underbelly of Georgian London. Like all the best historical fiction it makes the reader think as much about the way we live now as then.’
Erin Kelly, author of He Said/She Said
‘A very satisfying whodunnit . . . The twists and turns were masterful.’
James Oswald, author of the Inspector MacLean series
Laura Shepherd-Robinson is an author, born in Bristol in 1976. She has a BSc in Politics from the University of Bristol and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics.
Laura worked in politics for nearly twenty years before re-entering normal life to complete an MA in Creative Writing at City University. She lives in London with her husband, Adrian.
Blood & Sugar, her first novel, won the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown and the Specsaver’s Debut Crime Novel award, was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month, and a Guardian and Telegraph novel of the year. It was also shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and the Sapere Historical Dagger; the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Best Debut Novel; and the Goldsboro Glass Bell; and longlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year.
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