By Angela McAllister, published by Orion books.
Goodreads synopsis: Seduced by crime, troubled by conscience, Cora Parry creates a double life as she is drawn deep into Victorian London’s seething underworld…
Abandoned to the workhouse after the death of her guardians, Cora Parry refuses to accept her fate.
Under the tuition of persuasive street-rat Fletch, Cora finds herself reluctantly drawn deep into the Victorian underworld. As she is gradually seduced into a life of crime, Cora creates a persona for herself – Carrie – allowing her to separate her uneasy conscience from her actions.
But soon things are spiralling out of control. Carrie is committing acts of crime that Cora knows she can’t possibly have done. Where does Carrie end and Cora begin? Who is really in control, and where will it end?
My review: I couldn’t wait to start reading this, as the synopsis had made it sound so good! Honestly, it did really impress me, despite a short length at about 220 pages. The Double-Life of Cora Parry was about a girl whose guardians had died, and found she had nowhere to go after being kicked out of her inherited house. She was sent back to the workhouse by a horrible distant step-uncle, but is drawn into a life of crime in the Victorian underworld. I really loved the idea, because I’m starting to get really interested in Victorian historical fiction… so this was a perfect read for me! This ‘underworld’ is a whole new, imaginative side to Victorian London which explored the lives of those forced into a life of crime, more specifically stealing to survive. It was a really riveting read, because of a supporting character named Fetch I found it really shocking to find what she was forcing Cora (or should I say Carrie?) to do- breaking into houses and stealing rich people’s treasure. It really pumped up the adrenaline in the story, although I was a little disappointed when she disappeared! I would have liked Carrie/Cora to go and save her, or something, despite her selfishness.
Onto Cora/Carrie now! she was a really great protagonist. I admired her courage and determination to not give up and find a job, even when face with possible starvation. Her character, overall, was really enjoyable. I really liked the change that occurred in her, which led to an epic adventure of self-discovery. Just past the halfway point in the book, snippets of chapters were written in italics, and was the Carrie side (the thieving side) of Cora. Then, after a few paragraphs, it would switch to Cora and her waking up, forgetting what she’d done and not realising that she’d just been out, committing crime all night. I loved the way the author wrote this, and it was pulled off really well.
Another character I really liked was Joe, who worked in a pawnbroker’s shop that Carrie came across. I loved the developing relationship through Carrie teaching Joe how to read. It was really sweet. There was also quite a large focus on Joe’s father’s background, and I liked that, but I think it took up a bit too much of the ending.
Overall, I found The Double-Life of Cora Parry to be a really enjoyable read. The crime-infested setting was scarily realistic, and the author did a really good job on bringing the story to life. The character were three-dimensional and just brilliant, in total. The story of Cora discovering a whole new side to her was totally addictive and I really couldn’t stop reading. I’d love to read more from Angela McAllister in the future!
I received The Double-Life of Cora Parry from the publisher, in exchange for a review.