The Hangman in the Mirror by Kate Cayley

8:05 PM

Title: The Hangman in the Mirror
Author: Kate Cayley
Publish Date: July 7, 2011
Publisher: Annick Press
Pages: 229
Buy the Book: Barnes & Noble
Rating: ★★

"A strong-willed 16-year-old girl fights for survival in 18th-century North America. "

Francoise Laurent has never had an easy life. The only surviving child of a destitute washerwoman and wayward soldier, she must rely only on herself to get by. When her parents die suddenly from the smallpox ravishing New France, Francoise sees it as a chance to escape the life she thought she was trapped in.

Seizing her newfound opportunity, Francoise takes a job as an aide to the wife of a wealthy fur trader. The poverty-ridden world she knew transforms into a strange new world full of privilege and fine things -- and of never having to beg for food. But Francoise's relationships with the other servants in Madame Pommereau's house are tenuous, and Madame Pommereau isn't an easy woman to work for. When Francoise is caught stealing a pair of her mistress's beautiful gloves, she faces a future even worse than she could have imagined: thrown in jail, she is sentenced to death by hanging. Once again, Francoise is left to her own devices to survive . . . Is she cunning enough to convince the prisoner in the cell beside her to become the hangman and marry her, which, by law, is the only thing that could save her life?

Based on an actual story and filled with illuminating historical detail, "The Hangman in the Mirror" transports readers to the harsh landscape of a new land that is filled with even harsher class divisions and injustices.

The Hangman in the Mirror by Kate Cayley tells the story of a girl named Francoise as she struggles through life in New France. Her parents are poor and there is no hope for her rising beyond the situation that she was born into. Ever since she was small, it's been her greatest desire to be like the ladies that stroll around the more desirable parts of New France. She wants the pretty dresses, the air of importance, and she definitely already has enough pride for the part. It is a tale of her rise and fall as a New France lady.

I typically really like historical fiction. But this one just didn't do anything for me. I felt like I was reading Wuthering Heights all over again (and yes, I don't like that one either). For those of you who love Wuthering Heights, I believe you would like this but me personally... Yeah. I just couldn't do it.

Francoise is the main character of the story. You are introduced to her in a way that makes you sympathize and want her to succeed in her endeavor to rise in the ranks of society. It's hard not to feel pity for her as she struggles to help her mother with her business and keep her dad from making trouble. It's obvious that her home life is horrible, she has no moral support from either parent and they could care less if she did anything stupid. But once her parents die, I lost all sympathy for the girl who should've been born into a better life. She gets her dream job as a maid to the lady of a wealthy household. It seems like her life is looking up but once again, I begin to not like her. She becomes cold and callous to the people she'd once considered her friends. When she got thrown into jail, I kind of didn't know whether I should feel bad or smile.

Now, here's what I do love. This story definitely has no trouble transporting you back into the time of New France, even if you do hate your companion. I loved the way everything is brought to life on the page and you can count the characters. Everything seems very real and tangible. It's like you are living Francoise life but I definitely would have done things differently.

The ending was a tad disappointing for me. It seemed like the story ended on what I would've considered the climax and that bugged me. I was finally getting back into the story, curious about what was going to happen, and then BAM! It's over. I kind of wanted to pull my hair out in frustration. Really? I am intrigued and it ends? 

Once again, if you like Wuthering Heights, check this story out. I personally don't so that's probably my problem. 

About the author

Bailee is the type of person you would expect to find with her nose buried in a book or a notebook and a pencil in hand. She loves reading and she loves reviewing the books she reads. This is certainly becoming a passion of hers.