Newes From the Dead by Mary Hooper

Title: Newes From the Dead
Author: Mary Hooper
Country: US (April 2008)
Pages: 272
Genre: young adult; historical fiction
Challenges: YA Challenge
Rating: ***

Video Trailer:  Found here. 

I was captivated the moment that I head about this book. It's set in the mid 1600's and a young servant girl by the name of Anne Green has been wrongly hanged for infanticide and unknowingly buried alive.   The story is told in two points of view - Anne Green, our narrator of the events that led up to her untimely death, and Robert Matthews, a stuttering medical student waiting with others to dissect the newly hanged young woman.  

Anne Green made a poor and very understandable choice while a maid at the manor that she is employed.  The very wealthy young lad, Geoffrey pursues Anne from the moment he lays eyes on her, promising her that if she just gives him what he wants (ahem) then riches will be hers for the future.  Anne is quite naive and as one might imagine, realizes her wrong decision.  Unfortunately for Anne, it is quite too late. She has become with child and finds out that Geoffrey is not only meant to marry another, but denies to be the father of the babe. 

As events take place, Anne has the child prematurely.  When the baby doesn't make it, she is charged with infanticide, found guilty and sentence to hang.  (There is of course more to the story - like the the fact that the wealthy family does not wish to have their name tarnished and ensures that Anne is found guilty). 

Alternatively while we are learning about how Anne ended up alive in a coffin, Robert is filling us in on the activity taking place outside of her coffin and in the exam room.  Robert is feeling a little bit queasy at the prospect of having to observe a human dissection even though he knows that it is a requirement for his profession in medicine.  He is a likable character and sympathy is felt as he struggles to interact with others as his stuttering hinders almost all communication. 

The most fascinating aspect about this novel is that Anne Green really did exist; she was hanged and lived to tell about it in the 1650's.   Hooper says that she was listening to NPR when they did a passing story on the real Anne Green and it immediately piqued her interest.  She knew that she wanted to write Anne's story. 

The book really was an enjoyable read. Hooper did a sufficient job in painting the picture of life in the 1600's.  The dialogue and behaviors all struck me as accurate.  Unfortunately it was not as suspenseful as I hoped.  Perhaps if I was left guessing a bit more as to why Anne was hanged I would have enjoyed it more.  It's one of those books that reminds me of a conversation that one might have with a friend confirming a rumor.  I had my suspicions of what occurred, now I was given the full story.

Hooper did, however, include the real Newes from the Dead pamphlet which told of Anne's story.  That was a very cool inclusion. 


  1. This book sounds intriguing, but I've heard the writing is not particularly good.

  2. The writing is all very predictable. I felt that the time period is accurate, but honestly, I have read little where the setting was the mid 1600's.

    It's an easy read. I think that a reluctant reader might enjoy it, especially if they have a knack for history. By far not the best YA out there, but the premise makes it worth it!

  3. Not particularly good writing? It's on the USBBY list of Outstanding International Books!


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