Review of Scatterheart by Lili Wilkinson

The turnkey pushed Hannah into the cell, and clanged the door shut behind her. Hannah’s eyes stung and she felt a heavy churning in her belly. The smell of urine, vomit, sweat and rotting flesh was overpowering, and she broke out in a hot, prickly sweat, despite the icy night.

1814, London Town. Hannah Cheshire - wealthy and spoiled - has fallen from grace. Punishment: transportation to the colony of New South Wales.


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When I first saw this book, I knew I had to read it, just from seeing the cover alone. I wasn't disappointed - this extraordinary historical tale with a fairytale feel to it blew me away. I finished this in a few hours as I couldn't stop reading.

Right from the start the book hooked me, by not letting me know how Hannah ended up in Newgate. Instead, it starts when Hannah is in Newgate, and starts to tell you how she ended up there, which was a great way to grab my attention and made me want to read more. After prison, Hannah is transported to New South Wales and a lot of pages (around 100, probably more) is dedicated to life on the ship, which I usually find boring. However, due to the people on the ship and the bizarre goings-on there, I wasn't bored at all!

There's a lot of things in this book that are quite shocking, but I'm glad they're there, as they made the story feel more realistic. I loved that when Hannah was in London I felt as if I was in a fairytale world, which is what she saw it as. Then when the story moved onto the gaol and the ship, I felt as if I could really understand just how disgusting the accommodations where and how much Hannah went through.

There's a lot of really strong characters in this, that really stand out. One in particular was Dr Ullathorne who was just repulsive and I spent a lot of time hoping for him to get his. I also loved Molly, the street child with a melted face. She was really sweet and kept Hannah going throughout the journey. Another favourite was Long Meg, who befriended Hannah back in Newgate and looks after her. Long Meg is a typical London girl, very ballsy and she's not afraid to speak her mind, which added a lot of comedy to the tale.

Hannah herself was less likeable than the others, due to how she was brought up. She's a great character, she looks after Molly and she isn't afraid to stand for what's right but she has moments where she wants impossible things to be true and she can act quite spoilt too. I think the journey was quite good for her though, as she learnt a lot along the way.

5/5

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