An extraordinary historical debut for any reader who loves gothic mysteries like Rebecca and Fingersmith, and fiction which shines a light on untold stories.
The library is under lock and key. But its secrets can't be contained.
After he brought her home from Jamaica as a baby, Florence's father had her hair hot-combed to make her look like the other girls. But as a young woman, Florence is not so easy to tame - and when she brings scandal to his door, the bookbinder throws her onto the streets of Manchester.
Intercepting her father's latest commission, Florence talks her way into the remote, forbidding Rose Hall to restore its collection of rare books. Lord Francis Belfield's library is old and full of secrets - but none so intriguing as the whispers about his late wife.
Then one night, the library is broken into. Strangely, all the priceless tomes remain untouched. Florence is puzzled, until she discovers a half-burned book in the fireplace. She realises with horror that someone has found and set fire to the secret diary of Lord Belfield's wife - which may hold the clue to her fate . . .
'A tantalising read that swells with secrecy and intrigue. It's hard to believe that Kuchenga Shenjé writes of the past, and not of the present. A beautifully and skilfully written debut'
CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS, author of Queenie
'Powerful, gorgeously absorbing and wholly original'
JOANNE BURN, author of The Hemlock Cure
'Threads in themes of identity, sexuality and a woman's impossible choices into an intricate web of mysteries that would not let me go'
CARI THOMAS, author of Threadneedle
'I was swept up with the mystery. A beautifully crafted story full of nuanced characters, gothic undertones and plenty of heart'
STACEY THOMAS, author of The Revels
'Filled with fantastically drawn characters and with a love of books that shines through the prose'
KATIE LUMSDEN, author of The Secrets of Hartwood Hall