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Posted August 23, 2013
Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
Irishmen William (Billy) Burke and William Hare were two lowlifes in Edinburgh, Scotland in the late 1820s and were Britain's first documented serial killers, notorious for their body-snatching crime that shook the society. Two mysterious strangers –- Ambrosious Black and the stunningly beautiful actress Magenta –- use their wealth and influence to manipulate Burke and Hare to do their bidding. This is the first novella in the book by Gord Rollo, Only the Thunder Knows. Second novella by Rena Mason, East End Girls, centers on the vicious killings of Jack the Ripper. Protagonist Elizabeth Covington, a doctor's daughter who is studying medicine and wants to follow in her father's footsteps, believes she knows the villain, leading her to a depth of evil and the truth that drives the madness of a murderer.
I am familiar with these two well-known documented crimes and reading them through the fresh perspectives of Rollo and Mason are rewarding. It takes a lot of guts to take a stab at historical facts and add new twists to them. The narratives are absolutely flawless –- Rollo and Mason know their craft well. The writing styles are easily readable, their pacing is excellent and the re-imagined factual story lines are a windfall. The twists of both stories are very unexpected and done in a compelling way. Horror fans won’t be disappointed with these well-crafted novellas, especially those who are always intrigued with the dark history of body-snatching and the mysterious identity of Jack the Ripper. A satisfying read indeed.
Posted July 17, 2013
This is a two novella collection from Journalstone (a publisher to keep and eye on!). The first novella is Only the Thunder knows by Gord Rollo. I liked the strange setting of this story and was instantly drawn to the characters. It is a strange story about two drunks who one day take a dead lady to a Doctor because they don't know what else to do and the Doctor pays them money to use the cadaver in his school. This takes the story on a real interesting twist and keeps twisting and turning throughout. I thought the author did a great job of telling so much story in so few words! I did think that parts of the story felt rushed but I rather enjoyed it!
The second novella is East End Girls by Rena Mason. Again, I liked this story a lot and was instantly drawn in to the characters. This was a very unique twist on the historical famous slasher Jack the Ripper. I liked that this author was very knowledgeable about the human body and had very descriptive gruesome wording in this book! I won't go much into telling you about the story because I don't want to spoil it for you. I can say this, if you like Jack the Ripper this one will take you for a ride! Buckle up!!!
Posted July 14, 2013
I received Only the Thunder Knows by Gord Rollo through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. In came as one ebook alongwith East End Girls as a special double-novellas ebook that the publisher is putting out that includes one novella by an established writer along with one from a relatively new voice in horror. This set had to do with real life events in Victorian times which both authors took and used in their own unique fictional interpretation of events.
In Only the Thunder Knows, Gord Rollo take the story of Billy Burke and William Hare, two real life body-snatchers from the early 1800s who dug up fresh corpses and sold them to Dr. Robert Knox, who used them to teach anatomy to medical students, and later turned to murder to keep Dr. Knox supplied. In Rollo's story, however, Burke & Hare are part of a much bigger story that is wrapped in magic and age-old battles, legend and religion. I don't want to say too much because it would spoil the story, but the author does a wonderful job creating an atmosphere that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck and creating characters that stand out as powerful and frightening. I enjoyed the story and found it to be a page-turner! Great twist on the real life story of Burke & Hare!
East End Girls by Rena Mason was also a fascinating read and a unique take on the Victorian slasher Jack the Ripper. The story follows Elizabeth Covington, daughter of a medical doctor to the Royal family, and a girl determined to become a doctor herself during a time when women were not encouraged to pursue such occupations, especially not girls of her high standing. She is fiercely determined to complete her medical training despite being engaged and due to be married to a "good match", leaving all the planning of her nuptials to her mother who is not pleased by her daughter's untraditional obsessions. Desperate for real life experience and first hand knowledge, Elizabeth often goes to the dangerous East End where she wears a hooded cloak and goes by the name of Jane offering her medical services, often performing abortions for prostitutes in back alleys. When one procedure goes horribly wrong, and with her medical future at risk, Elizabeth decides to use the crimes of Jack the Ripper that have just begun and provide another corpse for the police to ponder, using his methods so that they believe her victim is part of his killing spree. Her disdain for the prostitutes and their lives comes through strongly and continues to grow and influence the decisions that Elizabeth makes along the way in order to achieve the goals most important to her. An interesting glimpse into the social class structure of Victorian England and a unique twist on Jackj the Ripper.