The Butcher’s Hook

Janet Ellis. Pegasus (Norton, dist.), $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-68177-311-7
Set in 1763 London, Ellis’s debut novel confronts the darker aspects of femininity through the life of wealthy and sheltered Anne Jaccob. Even though her parents have handpicked a suitable husband for her, Anne chafes against the idea of a traditional marriage and finds herself jaded toward love after the death of her younger brother and her mother’s failed pregnancies. Despite Anne’s aloofness about her own future, she becomes infatuated with a butcher’s apprentice, Fub. Subverting her father’s wishes that she marry an older business associate of his who repulses her, Anne begins a secret romance with Fub. Their surreptitious encounters and the exhilaration the secret relationship inspires Anne’s darker nature to bloom. Ellis’s compelling plot rests on Anne’s formative sexuality and constantly returns to differing conceptions of love and the lengths people go to in order to protect their status and reputation. The unwillingness of anyone in the story to view Anne as more emotionally complicated than a child leads her self-discovery to run amok, and Ellis to explore the stifling effects of such repressive views of sexuality. Ellis’s use of vivid imagery and focus on grisly detail add a macabre beauty to a stirring story. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/14/2016
Release date: 01/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-68177-374-2
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-68177-642-2
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