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Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman - Review

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Where did I get it? My friend Stacey lent it to me. She bought it at YALC last summer and got Tanya to sign it for her :) Stacey really enjoyed it and said I would too, so even though it isn't my usual kind of thing, I decided to give it a go. 

What's it about? The book is set in 1752, in the West Country. Caleb and his Pa are wandering travellers, who perform a Punch & Judy show for crowds in the towns. One day, while performing, Caleb's Pa is involved in a theft, and made to look guilty. He's jailed and sentenced to death. But the Bishop, who is somewhat of a friend, speaks for clemency on his behalf and instead Pa is sentenced to transportation to the Americas. Before he leaves, he tells Caleb that he has a sister, Anne, who lives in a village on the coast, and tells Caleb that he must travel to her and ask for her help.

Caleb finds his aunt and settles into life in the village. One day, a body is washed up on shore. Caleb recognises the signet ring on the body as that which belonged to his father, and sets out to try to find the truth about what happened to his dad.

There are a lot of modern themes in the novel - about loyalty, family, power, corruption, all kinds of things. I really liked the setting and could imagine the village quite well. Caleb is a really likeable character and so are many of the others in the book. I like boats so the shipping element was really good fun. I liked the book a lot more than I thought I would!

What age range is it for? I'd say aged 13+, although there is some chat about whores/prostitutes, so bear that in mind. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, Caleb is mixed race. It's part of the plot and I liked how he was treated as different. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No

Is there any sex stuff? Very little.

Are drugs mentioned or used? No

Is there any talk of death? Yes, some, in a few different guises. There's some violence too

Are there swear words? No

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely. I'm not into historical fiction because I prefer contemporary, but the characters here are really well written

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? Mostly because I want to give it back to Stacey!

What other books is it like? I'm not sure, this isn't my forte to be honest. 

How many stars? Four out of five - a really good read!

Where is the book going now? Back to Stacey next time I see her, if I don't post it first!

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