“I signed my soul away for the Paradise that day.”
The desperate tragedy that tugged us toward the end of the previous installment in Kitty’s tale seeps into her world from the outset and drags us into the mire of an unbearably smoggy summer, into the depths of opium dens and across the stage where lime-lights and greasepaint adorn a world Kitty knows so well. A world that has, to Kitty, become little more than a den of iniquity and brutality.
The amazing thing about so many series is you become so accustomed to their world a new installment makes your heart race. Also, as you adapt to the world and the characters, you forget amazing fictional friendships. In the Kitty Peck series ( gushing here ), I have discovered that my heart thrums a little the first time I see the word fannella: Lucca’s pet name for Kitty! Revisiting these characters and spending time in Kitty’s London laced with visceral and grotesque undercurrents and weighted under the sticky summer sun was a delight. The best books transplant you so deeply that when you look up from their pages you aren’t sure where you are. Kitty does that—gets a hook into you and pulls tightly.
Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow is the third installment in a series I wish would go on- and -on- forever—and- ever -amen and it drops right into the murky lair of an opium-tinged underworld. Now, Lady Linnet, Kitty has risen from music hall seamstress to a position of dark power and mars on her conscience stick to her with the ascent.
As always, there are secrets entwining her brother, Joey ( who was approached with great detail in Kitty Peck and The Child of Ill Fortune) and Lady Ginger, a scary Havishamesque maternal figure who would be at home in the Lannister court in Game of Thrones, all surrounding Kitty’s coming of age story as the curtain is peeled back and her shocking past revealed.
To speak to the intricate plot details would do this review a disservice. You really need to read the books in order to appreciate the complicated web Griffin tightens around Kitty and her allies. In this book, Kitty’s to-die-for connection with Lucca and her budding feelings for journalist Sam Collins are the bright lights in Kitty’s darkening world and a delight to the reader. While Lucca spends a lot of time off-page ( miss you, Lucca!), Kitty and Sam’s conversations crackle and pop with chemistry. Their words buzz. Another ally is Peggy, expecting a child while navigating a new world without Dan, whose death Kitty knows more than she should about.
Kitty has always been a complex character who colours between the worlds of dark and light. Resourceful and intelligent beyond her years, she uses exceptional agency to work the world around her as befits her desire to find her brother and, in this case, to reconcile the deeds of her conscience as she stepped into her new role with the Kitty she most wants to be. What I found especially memorable about this installment, is how much of a coming-of-age story it is. Kitty grows and develops amidst a festering underworld of criminal activity, violence and disgrace--- and this is most apparent in the slight changes in her alluring narrative. This is a more confident Kitty, a hardened Kitty --though never bereft of the spirit and light that pulls us onward as we fall into her voice. Griffin shows her writing chops by allowing us to see the cracks in the veneer of Kitty’s confidence, while never allowing her self-awareness and strength to falter.
I highly recommend starting this series from the beginning and I highly recommend savouring the tang of its unique voice. Describing Griffin to people, I sometimes think of Sarah Waters meets Catherine Webb for lunch with Michael Faber after a pre-drink with George RR Martin.
As in the previous two installments, Griffin has created a tangible world thanks to Kitty’s pitch-perfect narration, expert research and descriptions that buzz off the page. While the plot is intricate, terrifying and undercut with suspense, it is a character-driven tale populated with colourfully dimensional characters.
There is also ( tearing up here) an amazing moment of sacrifice between the two men in Kitty’s life, Lucca and Sam. If you didn’t already love these characters to the point of distraction, The Daughter of Sorrow will pull you over the edge.
( and the END omg the END! I die, Horatio! The end was just this lovely little jolt of adrenaline that got Kitty's heart racing so madly I swear I appropriated some of its beat. The author's note informs us that Kitty's world will be brighter and I sure hope so because I NEED these characters in my life and I need more of this fresh, exuberant, wrap-around-you-so-tightly narrative voice)
A few lines:
Of Sam: “There were grooves at the corners of his mouth worn there by smiling, not temper.”
“Colour was a luxury here.”
“I could smell disappointment rolling off him, in the way you get a tang of old liquor off a lusher.”
“I believe that death, when it comes, will be a kindness.”
“When my dress stuck so close to my flesh, it was like the cotton had been coated in honey.”
With allllll the thanks in the world to Faber and to Kate Griffin for the opportunity to review