Welcome to my stop on the Crow Court blog tour! Huge thanks to Random Things Tours for giving me the opportunity to take part in this! I was provided a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
CW: sexual assault, child abuse, murder, suicide
Crow Court begins in 1840 in a small town of Wimborne Minster, Dorset, when a young choirboy is found drowned. Whispers and rumours flood the town that the choirmaster is far from the God-fearing man he should be, these escalate and soon he is found, to many’s relief, murdered. This story unfolds over several years with a vast array of characters who seemingly all have some kind of involvement with the events that shook the town.
There were quite a lot of characters in this story so I didn’t form a strong bond with most of them. That being said there were still a few characters who stood out for me, Charlie Ellis in particular was probably my favourite. As the novel continues and the novel spans several years, he becomes a really complex character going from a cheeky, and loveable, smuggler to someone more mature and considerate of others. Whilst he is only in the novel briefly, I really liked the way Charman characterised the choir boy. It was very clever to introduce him for the opening chapter and truly give the reader a sense of his personality which then never his death hit even harder especially when you learn the reasons behind it.
As I mentioned, this novel features many characters which span several years. There were times where I was slightly Confused and unsure on how certain chapters related to the original plot. However, there would be the odd subtle mention or a character that I recognised which kept me very intrigued as I just wanted to know what really happened to the choirmaster! There were also a couple of chapters that I was really fascinated by, in particular the vicar talking to his atheist nephew and the one with the little boy doing everything he can to imitate his hero: Lord Nelson. It was chapters like these which highlight how Charman has a talent for suspense and dialogue. A lot of the chapters had the detail and character development of short stories which I also enjoyed.
The main plot of the mysterious deaths felt slightly sidelined in the middle of the novel which did make it a little confusing for me at first, but I think this was there because I read the novel in several sittings rather than the writing of the novel. I found the main plot incredibly interesting and I really liked the reveal at the end, especially as there were several moments where I thought I had figured out what had happened to the choirmaster. There is a lot more I would like to say about this bittersweet ending, however I, of course, don’t want to spoil it.
Overall, this is a very interesting historical novel and a solid debut from Charman. I’m very curious as to what characters he crafts in the future!