BOOK REVIEW: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

I yelled ‘Someone’s killed Father.’ I breathed in kerosene air, licked the thickness from my teeth.
Just after 11am on 4th August 1892, the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are discovered. He’s found on the sitting room sofa, she’s upstairs on the bedroom floor, both murdered with an axe.
It is younger daughter Lizzie who is first on the scene, so it is Lizzie who the police question, but there are others in the household with stories to tell: older sister Emma, Irish maid Bridget, the girl’s Uncle John, and a boy who knows more than anyone realises.
In a dazzlingly original and chilling reimagining of this most notorious of unsolved mysteries, Sarah Schmidt opens the door to the Borden home and leads us into it’s murkiest corners, where jealousies, slow-brewed rivalries and the darkest of thoughts reside.

Publisher: Tinder Press
Pages: 325

I saw this book on Savidge Reads and thought it sounded fantastic- his book recommendations are always great and I wasn’t disappointed with this one.
See What I Have Done is a fictional account of the real-life murders of Andrew and Abby Borden which took place in 1892. Both were brutally killed with an axe and their bodies were discovered by youngest daughter Lizzie who was later tried and acquitted of the murders.
Disturbing is probably the best word for this book, I felt uncomfortable from the very beginning. Sarah Schmidt is so clever with her use of language; she describes sights, smells and feelings in such a way that I found them more unsettling than the description of the Borden’s dead bodies.
The book has four narrators, Lizzie, the youngest daughter, Emma her elder Sister, Bridget who is housemaid at the time and Benjamin- a mysterious figure that the others were not even aware of. Lizzie is almost primal, she does and says whatever she thinks. She is very child-like and unlikeable in many ways. Her behaviour throughout the book is odd but you get the idea that those around her have just become used to it. All four narrators hold secrets and resentments and you are left wondering if the finger of suspicion should have been pointed at any of them and not just Lizzie.
Sarah Schmidt’s writing is extremely compelling, I felt very uncomfortable as a reader yet I couldn’t stop reading; all whilst marvelling at the author’s ability to create such feelings.
See What I Have Done is a fantastic book, it is dark, gritty and gripping. The writing is masterful and I can’t wait to see what Sarah Schmidt does next.

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