March 26, 2013
Teen faces death sentence
The Hangman in the Mirror
by Kate Cayley
Fifteen-year-old Françoise Laurent's life is one of constant work and struggle. Both parents can barely support the family, and both have a penchant for drink. When they die from smallpox, Françoise is left alone. Desperate to escape a bleak future, she takes a job as a maid to a wealthy fur trader and his wife. Françoise hopes to better herself and perhaps become a lady. Madame Pommereau, however, is very class conscious, and tells Françoise that she will always be a servant. When Françoise is caught stealing a pair of Madame's gloves, she is thrown in jail and sentenced to death by hanging. Set in 18th century New France, her only hope is to marry the hangman and thus win a pardon. But the hangman has died. Can she persuade a fellow prisoner to become the new hangman and take her for his wife?
Kate Cayley's first novel is compellingly told. Françoise is an intriguing character, haughty, quick-tempered, cunning, yet vulnerable. The story she spins to save herself is incredible, yet slyly convincing. As the story draws to a close, readers will be anxiously hoping for the door to open.