Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Wicked Boy

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of the Victorian Child Murderer. Kate Summerscale. 2016. [July] Penguin. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Because I was expecting to love, love, love it, I find myself a bit disappointed in Kate Summerscale's latest book. I think if I'd had reasonable expectations of it, it would have proved much more satisfying to me!

I did enjoy reading her newest book. I love reading nonfiction about Victorian England. And this is a true-crime book, which should prove appealing enough to readers.

Who is the "Wicked" Boy and was he really, truly wicked?! The subject of this one is Robert Coombes. He was convicted of murdering his mother, Emily Coombes. He didn't exactly try to cover it up. He left her dead body on the bed, exactly where he stabbed her. He left the bloody knife on the bed as well. He merely locked the door to his mother's room, told his brother he'd killed their mother, and both boys went about their business. Not just for a day or two--but for a week or two. When the smell brought persistent visitors--his mother's friends--and the police to the house, he confessed openly that he did it. He was a boy, and, perhaps not quite sane.

In any case, readers learn about his life before and after the murder; the trial, his time in prison/asylum, his release, his eventual immigration to Australia, his time as a soldier in World War I, etc. Everything is placed into context. The book has dozens of little history lessons in it, little asides that take you off the path, if you will, but ultimately lead you back on it again.

The last section of the book goes behind the scenes in the writing and researching of the book. This section helped me appreciate the book more and make sense of the rambling. In other words, knowing the author's purpose and how she saw things helped me to like the book more.

The trial took place in the mid 1890s. He was released from the prison/asylum a few years before World War I started. He moved to Australia before the war started as well. He joined up as soon as England declared war. He was a musician in his regiment's band. There were lots of little details and asides that add depth to this one. But. It isn't a particularly quick and absorbing read.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 comments:

Kailana 6:35 PM  

Darn. I love all of her books, so guess I need to wait on this one so my expectations are not too high!

Joy Weese Moll 2:07 PM  

I don't seem to get the true-crime genre. There seem to be conventions that require such a huge number of details that my brain can't hold it all.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP