Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Tag: Kate Griffin

Review: Fyneshade by Kate Griffin

Followers of this blog will know that I very rarely review books here. Every now and then however, a book comes along that I loved so much, I simply have to share!

(I should point out, I do review all the books I read – but anonymously via Amazon etc)

The book in question is Fyneshade by Kate Griffin. (published by Viper Books)


Many would find much to fear in Fyneshade’s dark and crumbling corridors, its unseen master and silent servants. But not I. For they have far more to fear from me…

On the day of her beloved grandmother’s funeral, Marta discovers that she is to become governess to the young daughter of Sir William Pritchard. Separated from her lover and discarded by her family, Marta has no choice but to journey to Pritchard’s ancient and crumbling house, Fyneshade, in the wilds of Derbyshire.

All is not well at Fyneshade. Marta’s pupil, little Grace, can be taught nothing, and Marta takes no comfort from the silent servants who will not meet her eye. More intriguing is that Sir William is mysteriously absent, and his son and heir Vaughan is forbidden to enter the house. Marta finds herself drawn to Vaughan, despite the warnings of the housekeeper that he is a danger to all around him. But Marta is no innocent to be preyed upon. Guided by the dark gift taught to her by her grandmother, she has made her own plans. And it will take more than a family riven by murderous secrets to stop her…


‘Ingenious’ – THE TIMES
‘A dark, inventive story’ – SUNDAY TIMES


Every year I save one or two books that I’m desperate to read – and keep them until I have a holiday. As holidays are rare things in my life, that can mean I sit on a longed for book for ages sometimes. Fyneshade was one such read – it had pride of place on my to-read pile for way too long!

I was fairly confident I’d enjoy the book before I started. Kate’s ‘Kitty Peck’ series is so fabulous, that as soon as I heard she had a new book out, I was determined to read it.

Fyneshade, however, is no Kitty Peck mystery – this is something else entirely, and comparisons would be foolish – beyond them all being well written.  ( The Kitty books, along with Fyneshade, are total must reads for any writers who wish to conquer the skill of the first person tale. Kate nails it!)

Marta – our lead character – is refreshingly different. She is likeable – but totally unlikeable all at once. And she is certainly compelling. It’s been some weeks since I finished reading the book, and I still can’t decide if I warmed to her or not – but I do know I’d read more about her at the drop of a hat.

Mrs Gurney (a character who I loved – and not just because she has the same surname of one of my best friends) was an enigma from the start – and it was a joy discovering her motivations as the tale unfolded.

Grace however, was the character who stole the show for me. With so much going on behind her often closed face and knowing stare, she was simply fascinating. But I’m not going to say in what way – just as details about the men in the story will not appear in this review – for anything I might say would most definitely ruin your read.

The star of the piece, however, is the house itself. Fyneshade. Tucked away in the heart of Derbyshire, I swear I could hear it’s walls thinking as Marta and Grace explored and exploited its secrets. And it has many secrets… and each one of those secrets seems to contain a secret of its own.

If you like gothic reads – this is a must.

Happy reading,

Jenny x



Book review: Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow

I was recently delighted to be asked to read and review the third book in Kate Griffin’s ‘The Kitty Peck Mysteries.

Why so excited? Well, having previously loved Book 1 (Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders) and Book 2 (Kitty Peck and The Child of Ill Fortune), I was awaiting part three of the series with plenty of anticipation.

I was not disappointed!

Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow (OUT TODAY) lives up to – and exceeds – the expectations of the first two instalments in the adventures of Kitty Peck, a young woman who has ‘Paradise’ forced upon her. In this case paradise is an inherited empire of music halls, organised crime, smuggling and protection rackets that used to be held together by her grandmother, the terrifying ‘Lady Ginger.’

Blurb-  Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow

Summer 1881: the streets of Limehouse are thick with opium… and menace. At eighteen Kitty Peck has inherited Paradise, a sprawling criminal empire on the banks of the Thames. Determined to do things differently to her fearsome grandmother, she now realises that the past casts a long and treacherous shadow. Haunted by a terrible secret and stalked by a criminal cabal intent on humiliation and destruction, Kitty must fight for the future of everyone she cares for…


The biggest problem I have with writing this review is my desire not to ruin either this novel, or the two that come before it, for you.

Books one and two were amongst the best Victorian crime thrillers I’ve ever read.

Kitty Peck is unique amongst its peers. It weaves a world of darkness together with a fierce lightness which shines from the loyalty of her friends- but now even those long term alliances are under threat.

As I read, I could feel Kitty’s total frustration. She can’t do what she wants to do any more- she can’t even do what she knows is the right thing to do. Kitty’s every move is tied into knots by the looming twin spectres of Paradise and her domineering- even while absent- grandmother.

Attempting to escape the guilt that has become part of Kitty’s lie- a consequence of events at the end of book two- Kitty turns to opium- but even in her drug fuelled dreams she is hit by the remaindered of what she has been forced to do to survive- and what she must do- and the price that will be paid to do it.

Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow is tense, fast paced, enthralling, and every single word is worth reading. As with books one and two, not a single sentence is wasted. Every paragraph moves the plot along at such a pace, that you will not want to put the book down once you’ve started to read it.

With the support of Peggy, Lucca, and her grandmothers Chinese bodyguards, Kitty Peck must keep Paradise going. So many people depend on Kitty for their livelihoods- without her they’d be on the streets. After all, Paradise is only one step from hell.

I have no hesitation in awarding Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow 5 stars.

Blurb for Book One-

Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders– Limehouse, 1880

Dancing girls are going missing from ‘Paradise’ – the criminal manor with ruthless efficiency by the ferocious Lady Ginger. Seventeen-year-old music hall seamstress Kitty Peck finds herself reluctantly drawn into a web of blackmail, depravity and murder when The Lady devises a singular scheme to discover the truth. But as Kitty’s scandalous and terrifying act becomes the talk of London, she finds herself facing someone even more deadly and horrifying than The Lady.

Blurb for Book Two-

Kitty Peck and the Child of Ill Fortune– March 1880, Limehouse.

Kitty Peck, a spirited but vulnerable seventeen-year-old, is the reluctant heiress to Paradise, the criminal empire previously overseen by the formidable Lady Ginger. Far from the colour and camaraderie of the music hall where Kitty had been working, this newfound power brings with it isolation and uncertainty. Desperate to reconnect with Joey, her estranged brother, Kitty travels to Paris. Reunited at last, she is unable to refuse his request to take a child back to London. Within days of her return it’s clear that someone has followed them… and this someone is determined to kill the child… and anyone who stands in their way.

Kitty Peck and the Child of Ill-Fortune is a fast-paced historical mystery with breath-taking twists and turns that takes us from the decadent, bohemian world of late 19th-Century Paris to a deadly secret at the heart of the British empire.


Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Kate Griffin talks Kitty Peck!

Forgive me a small fan girl moment.

I can’t quite believe I have Kate Griffin on my blog today. Her Kitty Peck series is just brilliant. Not a single word is wasted throughout. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wish I’d written these books myself!

And what’s more, having had the pleasure of meeting Kate at the Tiverton Literary Festival last year, I can tell you she is a lovely person as well- with great taste in Thai food.

Why not grab a cuppa- possibly with cake- put your feet up for a few minutes, and have a read.

Over to you Kate…

First a big thank you to Jenny for inviting me to contribute and also a huge thank for responding to my Kitty Peck books so enthusiastically. As she also delves into the shady corners of history, her appreciation means a great deal!

Writing a novel is a bit like mountaineering. Admittedly, climbing Mount Everest is a lot more dangerous than sitting in your pyjamas and eating Hobnobs while tapping away at a laptop, but  bear with me because there are definite parallels.

When the going’s good you manage to cover a vast distance in a surprisingly short space of time but on a rough day it doesn’t matter how long you slog away – head down against the wind, digging your crampons into the crumbling ice underfoot – nothing comes right.

Hours can pass and then when you finally look up, snow-blind from the glaring whiteness of the empty screen in front of you, it’s soul-destroying to find that you’ve hardly gone anywhere at all.

Even your ‘footsteps’ – those few feeble paragraphs you managed to hack out – have probably been deleted as you became increasingly dejected, disoriented and unsure which way to go.

It’s as if snow has fallen on your tracks, obliterating every trace of your progress.


On grim days like this a mountaineer stops, pitches camp, brews up something hot and strong and takes cover until the blizzard has passed.

In writing terms, ‘pitching camp’ means admitting temporary defeat. When nothing comes together, it’s best to switch off your computer (or close your notebook if you’re a long-hander) and do something else, preferably something that makes you happy.

A break usually clears the head and clears the way.

But even then, once you’ve gathered your strength, consulted your charts and stepped boldly back on the trail, the way to the summit can still be treacherous and deceptive.

Sometimes you’re so busy concentrating on reaching those far glittering peaks that you don’t notice the bottomless crevasse yawning in front of you. By this I mean the gaping hole in the plot that you never realised was there until you tried to marshal your characters across the final glacier and en-route to the sunlit upland ending of your story.

One minute it was all going so well; the next you have no alternative but to find another route to your neatly planned conclusion.

Sometimes it can take days to retrace your steps to chart a new way forward or around the chasm. In particularly hazardous conditions you might even have to go right back to the beginning, re-stock your supplies and start out again.

More fortunately, just occasionally when you find yourself teetering on the brink of a deep dark void, inspiration strikes and you find exactly the right piece of equipment in your rucksack to enable you to perform a miraculous leap to safety.

By ‘equipment’ I mean your plot or your characters. It’s amazing how helpful and inventive they can be when you put your mind to it!

Then again, your characters can also be difficult, dangerous travelling companions, particularly the pesky independent ones who refuse to listen to your strict instructions and insist on going off by themselves, getting totally lost in the craggy, uncharted landscape – ie, the parts of your story that you never had any intention of writing. All it takes is to allow a character to wander a few steps off the track you’ve planned and that’s it. They can be missing for days!

By the time you realise what they’ve gone and done, it usually takes a major search party (aka a complete re-write) to locate them and bring them back to the trail.

At testing times like these many writers would be thrilled to see a St Bernard lolloping to the rescue with a giant barrel of brandy hanging round its neck. (Or, in my case, gin).

Now, I’m horribly aware that I’ve pushed my mountaineering metaphor to the limit of human endurance, but there’s one last comparison I’d like to make, and for me it’s very relevant.

Kate Griffin with Michael Jecks, Ruth Ware & Chris Ewan at Tiverton Lit Festival

This week, I’m about to embark on the fourth instalment of my Kitty Peck mystery series, published by Faber and Faber.

Kitty’s world is a version of London in the early 1880s. The setting will be familiar to anyone who loves Conan Doyle’s wonderful Sherlock Holmes stories. Kitty’s London, specifically Limehouse, is a place where menace lurks in the swirling mist rising from the Thames and where the rumble of a hackney carriage generally bodes ill. Kitty is the youthful proprietress of three tawdry music halls, but she is also more, much more.

By the end of the year I hope that Kitty and I will have gone on one last journey together.  At the moment, we’re both at base camp. Around 400 snow-blank pages lie ahead and I have to find a way to guide us across that vast and virgin expanse.

I know exactly where we’re going. If I shield my eyes and squint into the far distance I can see the sparkling summit – our final destination.

I’ve spent the last few months planning and researching. I’ve worked out the route and packed essentials for the journey (well, Hobnobs and gin) but, as I explained above, you can never be quite sure what might crop up on the way.

Now as I stare at all that whiteness ahead, I have to admit that I’m excited… and slightly terrified.


If you’d like to catch up, the first two books in the Kitty Peck series have just been released as a single ebook:

The third book in the series, Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow, will be published in summer this year:


What a wonderful blog. Like many writers, I totally equate with the feelings of terror you have described! However, having read the Kitty Peck books to date, I can tell you, you have nothing to worry about!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x




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