The Silver Collar by Antonia Hodgson – REVIEW
Autumn, 1728. Life is good for Thomas Hawkins and Kitty Sparks. The Cocked Pistol, Kitty’s wickedly disreputable bookshop, is a roaring success. Tom’s celebrity as ‘Half-Hanged Hawkins’, the man who survived the gallows, is also proving useful.
Their happiness proves short-lived. When Tom is set upon by a street gang, he discovers there’s a price on his head. Who on earth could want him dead – and why?
With the help of his ward, Sam Fleet, and Sam’s underworld connections, Tom’s investigation leads to a fine house in Jermyn Street, the elegant, enigmatic Lady Vanhook and an escaped slave by the name of Jeremiah Patience.
But for Tom and Kitty, discovering the truth is only the beginning of the nightmare.
A powerful, deeply immersive thriller, The Silver Collar is both a celebration of love and friendship and a terrifying exploration of evil.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hodder & Stoughton.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“Envy snaps its teeth at the heels of good fortune, and there is nothing in the world more destructive than a man who wants what he cannot have.”
I’ve been a fan of this series for a while now so jumped at the chance to take part in the blog tour for the newest instalment. Set in the early eighteenth century, each story is a mystery centred around the protagonist, Thomas Hawkins. You don’t have to have read the previous three books to enjoy this one as each is a standalone and works well if read in isolation. Twenty-six-year-old Thomas is a luckless gambler and disreputable gentleman who is nevertheless intelligent, sharp, and caring. His partner Kitty is independent, fiery and wealthy in her own right and I love the relationship between Tom and Kitty as it’s one of healthy mutual respect based on love. This mystery ends up testing their love more than they ever expected and I was invested in their emotional journey and rooting for them to conquer all.
“Somewhere in London, someone loathed me so much that they wanted me dead.”
Another fantastic element of this series is the evocative London setting. The author really captures the essence of this slice of history and creates an authentic portrayal of everyday life. She also touches on the wider issues prevalent during this time period such as slavery and women’s rights. I thought both were handled well, especially slavery which was explored via the character of escaped-slave Jeremiah Patience; Jeremiah’s history is recounted in part four and makes a horrifying read. Through the character of Kitty, the author also explores the impact of a patriarchal society on women and their curtailed freedoms.
“You are hunting a monster, Mr Hawkins. Do not become one yourself in the process.”
The villain of the story was probably one of the most complex and terrifying antagonists I’ve ever read. Their intelligence and ruthlessness combine to create a truly formidable opponent. From the very first page, I was gripped by this well-written mystery. The evocative setting was wonderfully authentic and the nuanced explorations of slavery and women’s rights were handled skilfully. The best element, as ever, was the characters. Each one is fully-rendered and fleshed-out, remaining memorable in the reader’s imagination long after finishing. If you’re looking for a new series to start then I’d highly recommend this one as it’s sure not to disappoint.