Review: Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

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 . . .

From the pleasure palaces and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Daughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget . . .

“It’s how history remembers the lady, she thought. By our death or our dishonour or our sins.”

When Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham unexpectedly finds herself cradling a dying friend who, unbeknownst to Caro, is actually a prostitute who’s been murdered, she’s desperate to get to the bottom of who murdered the woman and why. She consults renown thief-taker Peregrine Child to find the answers to solve Lucy’s murder. The duo unwittingly find themselves at the heart of a deeper and darker plot than they could have imagined, with foes on all sides, ready to silence them before they uncover the truth. 

*applause, applause, applause!*

*standing ovation*

Daughters of Night is one of the best – if not THEE best – historical mystery I’ve ever read. It is most definitely in my top reads of 2021.

Rich, descriptive, intricately plotted with an entertaining cast of characters. I couldn’t get enough of this book. I stole away as much time of my day and night to read this ensnaring and clever mystery. 

I wanted to make up a case board with all the players and vital evidence to figure out what was going on. There’s layers of twists and turns, and then even more turns and twists, which are made all the more enthralling by how illustrious the book is. The author clearly appreciates the Georgian time period, because it truly came to life in every traipse to boozers, brothels and black alleys where our clues took us. I really enjoyed seeing the light being shone on the sex industry of the time, and also felt the portrayal of the time period in how people conducted themselves was brilliant.

The characters were well drawn and well used. There was quite a number of them, to be honest. There’s politicians, servicemen, prostitutes, loan sharks, footmen, artists, jewellers… the list goes on. Thankfully, a character list is provided. As for the main characters; Caro is a strong female lead who is not afraid of challenging the expectations and imposed limitations of her gender. She’s determined and caring, so is easily likeable.

Child, the hired PI, genuinely reads like a weary middle aged man but is nonetheless methodical and desperate enough to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Then there’s Pamela, a 15 year old maiden who I’m certain will evoke a variety of emotions with readers. One minute I liked her, but page by page, she began to make me feel uneasy, firstly with her naivety and then by her egocentric mentality. I wanted to grab and shake her – I’m pretty sure I sneered at one point. 

Additionally, with Caro constrained to the misogynistic chains of the time period, her consultation and employ of Child reminded me of 2020’s Sara and Arent from The Devil and the Dark Water. If you liked that sleuthing mystery, then you’re sure to love this. 

My advice to those who wish to read Daughters of Night, is be prepared for an information heavy read. There’s so much going on, and it wouldn’t surprise me if other bookworms felt it was difficult to engage with (my mum felt this way!) – my only advice would be to read this fully alert or give the audiobook a go. The narrator, Lucy Scott, was fantastic, and I hope any future stories in this world will be narrated by her. 

This was absolutely brilliant and I cannot recommend it enough if you love eloquently written and well crafted mysteries, especially historical mysteries. Certain characters at certain points infuriated me so much I was screaming into a pillow and sweating with rage, and then my eyebrows were beyond my hairline from an explosive twist. I can’t wait to see what Laura Shepherd-Robinson writes next.

Thank you kindly to Pan Macmillan and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Buy It Now

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