Unlawful Things, Anna Sayburn Lane: Book Review

I’ve never used the word ‘masterpiece’ in a review before, but Unlawful Things by Anna Sayburn Lane deserves it.

The plot:

A hidden masterpiece. A deadly secret buried for 500 years. And one woman determined to uncover the truth.

When Helen Oddfellow meets a historian on the trail of a lost manuscript, she’s intrigued by the mystery – and the man. But what starts as a literary puzzle quickly becomes a quest with deadly consequences.

A 500-year-old secret is about to kill again…

It is such an amazing book from start to finish

First things first, this is definitely my type of book. It mixes historical fiction and a thriller, with literature and famous names and places, making it so incredibly interesting. It is ridiculously difficult to put down – I read it in one sitting, and was up until 5am reading it, with absolutely no regrets. I soaked up every last word.

I was so responsive when reading this book; I often found myself saying ‘noooo’ or shaking my head and tying to steer the protagonist in one way and I was genuinely heartbroken at one point. Helen Oddfellow is my new favourite person.

I loved how it was unpredictable – not only how the preface linked, but also how the secret tied together. I did guess the ‘who’ aspect, through little hints and general detective work, but couldn’t fathom the ‘why’ and adored how it all played out. It was intense the whole way through and the concept and execution was incredible.

Unlawful Things really paints a picture through the writing, taking you on a journey through time and places. Lane is an incredible writer, and you can seriously tell she’s done her research here. Both the story, writing and concept is in the same league as Dan Brown, for me.

I was born near Canterbury, one of the important places in the book, so I’ve grown up with a huge interest and knowledge behind the history, which is probably why I found the story so fab. Although I fear that if you ever talk to me about Canterbury or some other names mentioned in this book, my thoughts may be warped by the fiction in this masterpiece.

It has layers upon layers, and it is impossible to decipher the ‘why’. A tale so beautifully told, I actually cried with relief at the ending. I’m not sure why, but I think it would be the same feeling as if you’re stranded in a desert and you finally find water.

With regard to the thriller aspects – do you know when you’re in bed reading and you have to sit up because it’s just got real? I did that about 8 times in this book. It is such an amazing book from start to finish and packed with action.

There are quite a lot of racist comments to prove the point here, so some parts are hard to swallow, but it’s actually quite important to the story itself and if you persevere through the whole ‘wanting to beat people up because of said comments’, you will be thoroughly rewarded.

I was slightly frustrated when I finished this book, as the cover says it’s a ‘Helen Oddfellow Mystery’, so I had my bank card at the ready to purchase any/all of the series, but this is the first book. I am [im]patiently waiting for the next and cannot contain my excitement.

I am in love with everything about Unlawful Things and I’ll never forget this story.

Unlawful Things, Anna Sayburn Lane, RRP £9.99 (paperback); Amazon 

Pages: 413

Independently Published

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Thriller

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