Title: The Quietness
Author: Alison Rattle
Who’s it for? Older teens, with scenes of rape/sexual assault it’s not really suitable for younger readers (but as always, that depends on the reader)
What’s it about? Queenie lives in the slums with her family, living a hard hand to mouth existence that she dreams of escaping from. But all that changes when she takes a job as a maid at a seemingly well-to-do household.
Ellen lives a fortunate life, her father is wealthy and all her basic needs are provided. But it’s a gilded cage and the arrival of her cousin soon changes her world forever, flinging her out of everything she knows and down a path that will lead her and Queenie to the truth.
What’s good about it? It’s brutal. I know, it sounds odd to mark that as a good thing, but this story wouldn’t work without the brutality. To soften the description would ruin the impact. It’s quite fearless storytelling and it’s all the better for it.
Queenie is brilliant. She’s tough but at the same time quite naive. She’s unprepared for the world beyond her family and the slum they live in and watching her slow realisation to what she’s know all along, and not wanted to see, with her new life is utterly engrossing.
Ellen isn’t quite as feisty as Queenie, but when she finds her strength it’s quite something. It’s solid, dependable Mary who shows her courage in the small ways that matter in the long run.
What’s bad about it? Nothing that stands out.
The verdict? This is an unashamedly dark, tense story that pulls no punches. I’ve been trying to think of a way to review it without spoiling it too much, so forgive me if this all seems a little brief. It’s a fascinating read, but not a comfortable one and the ending… as much as I didn’t want it to it ended exactly the way it had to.
I would definitely recommend this, but I would say to bear in mind that this is set in Victorian London and women are treated by the standards of the time. If that’s not your thing, then walk on by. But it is a damn good read.