The Hangman in the Mirror

ImageThe Hangman in the Mirror
Kate Cayley
Annick Press, c2011
229 p. ; $12.95
9781554513567 (pbk)
Ages 12+
Reviewed by Bronwen Cathey

In 18th century Montreal, fifteen-year-old Françoise Laurent must rely on her wits and tenacity to survive as she watches her parents spend their earnings on alcohol.  One day at the market, she sees a young servant girl and imagines a better life.  When Françoise suddenly loses her parents, she is thrust into a world of finery as the maid to Madame Pommereau.  Surrounded by unimaginable decadence, Françoise makes a careless decision that leads to a death sentence. Suddenly, the fiercely independent girl finds that her only chance at survival lies in winning the affection of the young man who occupies the next cell.

Based on a true story, The Hangman in the Mirror vividly illustrates the class struggle and harsh realities of being a young woman in 1750s New France. Well paced, engrossing, and with touches of Montreal history, Cayley’s first novel is highly recommended for young adults.