Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough
Series: Mayhem #1
Published: April 25th, 2013
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
339 pages (eARC)
Genre: Historic fiction/horror/mytery/supernatural
Acquired this book: From the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
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A new killer is stalking the streets of London’s East End. Though newspapers have dubbed him ‘the Torso Killer’, this murderer’s work is overshadowed by the hysteria surrounding Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel crimes.

The victims are women too, but their dismembered bodies, wrapped in rags and tied up with string, are pulled out of the Thames – and the heads are missing. The murderer likes to keep them.

Mayhem is a masterwork of narrative suspense: a supernatural thriller set in a shadowy, gaslit London, where monsters stalk the cobbled streets and hide in plain sight.

For years I’ve had this fascination with Jack the Ripper. I know I’m not alone in this. So whenever I see a book that has anything to do with Jack the Ripper, I get excited. When I saw the cover for Mayhem, I assumed it dealt with Jack because of the man with the cloak and top hat - classic Jack, right? So I was both surprised and pleased when I learned that it did deal with Jack in a way - the fact that it took place during his reign of terror - but it was actually about the Thames Torso Killer, a madman who committed equally heinous crimes at the same time, but who I’d never heard of before.

I loved the dark, gritty feel to this book. I really felt immersed in the seedy, dirty side of late 1800s London - the poverty, the opium dens, the filth and debauchery. People were terrified and yet intrigued over the fact that not one, but two serial killers - two madmen - were on the loose. If you weren’t a prostitute, you knew you were at least safe from Jack, but the Thames Torso killer didn’t seem to follow any set pattern or go after a ‘type’. There were newspaper articles from the time between some of the chapters, and I thought that was a nice touch. The book was obviously well researched and planned, and it showed.

While I enjoyed the characters, I found it hard to keep up at times with the changing POV. Dr. Bond was the pain POV, but then we also got several other points of view, and while it added to the story in some ways, it also made it a bit confusing. There were times when I forgot who certain characters were because there were so many of them I couldn't remember all their names at first.

For the most part, the book was quite fast-paced and held my interest, while also keeping me guessing. There were times I was so immersed in the story, I could hardly turn the pages fast enough, and if something distracted me I’d practically jump out of my skin. I found the paranormal twist interesting and strangely believable, and thought the author did a great job with the execution.

Any element of horror isn’t usually my first choice in books (I’m a total wuss), but I thoroughly enjoyed Mayhem. It encompassed the best of horror, historic fiction, supernatural, and mystery.

Gruesome and thrilling, Mayhem is a must-read for fans of historic fiction set in 1800s London, and fans of Jack the Ripper and other mysterious serial killers.

Have you read Mayhem? What did you think? If you haven't read it, does it sound like something you'd be interested in? Had you ever heard of the Thames Torso Killer?

1 comment:

  1. I was wondering if this was any good and your review has totally convinced me that I need to read this! <3


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