cover image Newes from the Dead

Newes from the Dead

Mary Hooper, . . Roaring Brook, $16.95 (263pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-355-7

British author Hooper (The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose ) bases this macabre novel on the chilling true story of Anne Green, a maidservant who in 1650 was hanged, thrown into a coffin... and “miraculously” revived just as the doctors at the medical school in Oxford were about to dissect her. From her purgatorial state inside the coffin, Anne recounts the details of her wretched life—her seduction by the lying grandson and heir of Sir Thomas Reade, at whose estate Anne works; her pregnancy and miscarriage; her trial for infanticide, where a guilty verdict is virtually assured by Sir Thomas's fury at her for naming his grandson as the father. Alternating chapters describe events as experienced by witnesses, particularly a shy, stuttering medical student for whom the sight of Anne's corpse-like body reawakens a traumatic memory of his own (gratuitously occasioning a melodramatic subplot). As Oxford doctors observe tiny signs of life but cannot hasten Anne's awakening, Sir Thomas demands that justice be served; meanwhile others interpret Anne's state as a message from God. All the dissection-room debating slows the pace, but it's hard to take the edge off this plot. Ages 14–up. (May)