Mad Blood Stirring
1815: The war is over but for the inmates at Dartmoor Prison, peace - like home - is still a long way away.On the eve of the year 1815, the American sailors of the Eagle finally arrive at Dartmoor prison; bedraggled, exhausted but burning with hope. They’ve only had one thing to sustain them – a snatched whisper overheard along the way.The war is over.Joe Hill thought he’d left the war outside these walls but it’s quickly clear that there’s a different type of fight to be had within. The seven prison blocks surrounding him have been segregated; six white and one black. As his voice rings out across the courtyard, announcing the peace, the redcoat guards bristle and the inmates stir. The powder keg was already fixed to blow and Joe has just lit the fuse.Elizabeth Shortland, wife of the Governor looks down at the swirling crowd from the window of her own personal prison. The peace means the end is near, that she needn’t be here for ever. But suddenly, she cannot bear the thought of leaving.Inspired by a true story, Mad Blood Stirring tells of a few frantic months in the suffocating atmosphere of a prison awaiting liberation. It is a story of hope and freedom, of loss and suffering. It is a story about how sometimes, in our darkest hour, it can be the most unlikely of things that see us through.

Mad Blood Stirring Details

TitleMad Blood Stirring
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 19th, 2018
PublisherDoubleday
ISBN-139780857525154
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction

Mad Blood Stirring Review

  • Nigel
    January 1, 1970
    In brief - I have mixed feelings about this book. Bits I really enjoyed. It is well created from historic research. Some of the characters were very good. Bits didn't work that well for me. Certainly a 3 star book, maybe 3.5.In fullBeing a Devon resident and a Dartmoor walker I've seen Dartmoor prison in all seasons and weathers and this book appealed. In Mad Blood Stirring a new group of American prisoners are marched up to the prison on New Year's Eve 1814. They are 12 crew from the Eagle who In brief - I have mixed feelings about this book. Bits I really enjoyed. It is well created from historic research. Some of the characters were very good. Bits didn't work that well for me. Certainly a 3 star book, maybe 3.5.In fullBeing a Devon resident and a Dartmoor walker I've seen Dartmoor prison in all seasons and weathers and this book appealed. In Mad Blood Stirring a new group of American prisoners are marched up to the prison on New Year's Eve 1814. They are 12 crew from the Eagle who have heard that the war is over. The around 7000 existing prisoners are very interested in this news and want to know when they are going home. This is Act 1.As with all such things the reality is less simple than the ideal and prisoners will not be released until everything is ratified by everyone. There is a power keg and a match around.. However it is quickly clear that that was the case before the men of the Eagle arrived. There are seven blocks in the prison each holding around a 1000 men. Six of the blocks are white only and the seventh is for coloured folk. Throw in the fact that the British seem happy to rub in the fact that they are in charge and it is clear anything could happen.It did take me a while to get my head around the various story lines in use here. The first part of the book felt quite hard going at times and I had to keep reminding myself who was who from the "cast of characters" at the start. One of the main threads is that block 4 - the coloured block - has a theatre company. The leader of the block, King Dick, wants to put on one last show before they are released. It is to be Romeo and Juliet and one of the one member's of the Eagle's crew - a white man - becomes involved in it.As time went by the more I read the more I wanted to read. There are good characters and good dialogue in this book. Of note King Dick is excellent, a genuinely "larger than life" character. The prison itself and Dartmoor are used effectively. Other characters are good too however the main ones are Joe (Juliet) and Habs (Romeo). The developing relationship becomes more and more interesting. This is at a time when any interactions between men are considered an abomination. The book winds up to what will obviously be a very dramatic end with considerable pace.There are many things to like about this book. The book is well researched and weaves together an interesting tale around that. The inventiveness here deserves much credit. In passing there is a good bibliography at the end. The writing makes the dark and bleak setting very vivid. It is worth noting that issues of colour are dealt in an appropriate way for the era but in a way which would be offensive in current times. The issue of male relationships both inside and out of prison is part of this story too. My reservation here is that the Romeo and Juliet drama became rather too dramatic for me I think. A good historical novel that will appeal to many I am sure.Note - I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair reviewhttp://viewson.org.uk/historical-fict...
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  • Nicki Markus
    January 1, 1970
    It took me a few chapters to get into Mad Blood Stirring, but when I did, I found it compelling reading. I knew of the war in 1812, but I'd never heard of the incident in the prison, upon which this book is based. I particularly enjoyed the distinctive voices the author gave each of the characters, and the way those characters interacted. Joe and Habs were my primary focus, as I thought the developing relationship between them was beautifully handled. I certainly finished the book keen to find o It took me a few chapters to get into Mad Blood Stirring, but when I did, I found it compelling reading. I knew of the war in 1812, but I'd never heard of the incident in the prison, upon which this book is based. I particularly enjoyed the distinctive voices the author gave each of the characters, and the way those characters interacted. Joe and Habs were my primary focus, as I thought the developing relationship between them was beautifully handled. I certainly finished the book keen to find out more about Dartmoor prison, and, overall, this was a wonderful read that I would recommend to historical fiction readers who are looking for a story with less bodice ripping and more dark emotion. 4.5 stars from me.I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    A great premise and a fantastic setting but the business of performing the play, Romeo and Juliet, didn't retain my interest. A review to follow shortly.
  • Laurence Baldwin
    January 1, 1970
    Simon Mayo confidently asserts that no-one much in England knows about the War of 1812 with America, and the prisoners-of-war in Dartmoor Prison. Actually I did, but I didn't know about the segregation of the black prisoners, and the events following the end of the war (No spoilers here - read it yourself!). This is a great first novel, the tension builds in the powderkeg of a prison, and the thread of Romeo and Juliet throughout the plot is well done, without becoming laboured. The fine line be Simon Mayo confidently asserts that no-one much in England knows about the War of 1812 with America, and the prisoners-of-war in Dartmoor Prison. Actually I did, but I didn't know about the segregation of the black prisoners, and the events following the end of the war (No spoilers here - read it yourself!). This is a great first novel, the tension builds in the powderkeg of a prison, and the thread of Romeo and Juliet throughout the plot is well done, without becoming laboured. The fine line between contemporary language usage and offence is carefully trodden, and adds to the period feel. For a graduate in History and Politics Mr Mayo should know that rifles weren't commonplace at this time amongst prison guards, an error which irks, and he does actually start talking, correctly, about muskets in the final chapters! That aside (and most people wouldn't notice) it is a great read, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and which will make me find out more about the true events behind the novel.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    Really enjoyed this. Found myself wanting to find time to continue with it, sneaking in a few bits whenever I could. The characters are well written and although I wouldn’t say it’s a book about King Dick, he certainly steals the show. The prison is well described and the cold, damp conditions are almost palpable. At its heart is a story about friendship/love across a divide, and not the the choice of the play they perform. Not usually a reader of historical fiction but for me it was the believa Really enjoyed this. Found myself wanting to find time to continue with it, sneaking in a few bits whenever I could. The characters are well written and although I wouldn’t say it’s a book about King Dick, he certainly steals the show. The prison is well described and the cold, damp conditions are almost palpable. At its heart is a story about friendship/love across a divide, and not the the choice of the play they perform. Not usually a reader of historical fiction but for me it was the believability of the characters and a desire to follow their story that compelled me to keep returning to it and I’m very glad I did.
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  • Greville Waterman
    January 1, 1970
    What a wonderful book. I thought I was a history buff but I had totally forgotten that England and America were at war with each other in 1815 and this book deals with a bunch of American sailors who are prisoners of war at Dartmoor when they hear from a new arrival that the war is over and a peace treaty signed.The book deals with the interaction of the prisoners and their guards, smallpox, love affairs, boxing and theatre amongst other matters and is never less than fascinating.A really origin What a wonderful book. I thought I was a history buff but I had totally forgotten that England and America were at war with each other in 1815 and this book deals with a bunch of American sailors who are prisoners of war at Dartmoor when they hear from a new arrival that the war is over and a peace treaty signed.The book deals with the interaction of the prisoners and their guards, smallpox, love affairs, boxing and theatre amongst other matters and is never less than fascinating.A really original and well researched book from an excellent writer.Highly recommended.
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  • Helen
    January 1, 1970
    This book is totally outside of my normal genre and I knew absolutely nothing about the war between England and America which resulted in thousands of American sailors being locked up in Dartmoor prison, so I really had no idea whether I would even finish this book let alone enjoy it!However I was hooked almost from the first page, the characters just came alive and the writing is so brilliantly descriptive I could see each of the main characters and feel the oppression as the story unfolded. Th This book is totally outside of my normal genre and I knew absolutely nothing about the war between England and America which resulted in thousands of American sailors being locked up in Dartmoor prison, so I really had no idea whether I would even finish this book let alone enjoy it!However I was hooked almost from the first page, the characters just came alive and the writing is so brilliantly descriptive I could see each of the main characters and feel the oppression as the story unfolded. There are several aspects to the book: thousands of men locked up waiting to go home, bitter tension between the American sailors and English guards, huge racial tensions amongst the prisoners all tied in with the invaluable friendships being made against the backdrop of a love affair between the Governors wife and the prison doctor. Having no knowledge of the history surrounding this I can't comment on the accuracy of events, but the quality writing meant that I could really feel the building atmosphere as the book reached a conclusion.I really really enjoyed this book, brilliant writing, great story and awesome characters.
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  • gem
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed Simon Mayo’s Itch books so I was really intrigued by this novel.It’s clearly been incredibly well researched, the descriptions of the time and place are vivid and cinematic, so much so that the characters seem entirely realistic.It’s a period of history I know very little about so it was really interesting to read something entirely new. I love Simon’s writing, he seems to have a knack for writing for specific audiences; anyone who loves historical fiction will d I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed Simon Mayo’s Itch books so I was really intrigued by this novel.It’s clearly been incredibly well researched, the descriptions of the time and place are vivid and cinematic, so much so that the characters seem entirely realistic.It’s a period of history I know very little about so it was really interesting to read something entirely new. I love Simon’s writing, he seems to have a knack for writing for specific audiences; anyone who loves historical fiction will definitely want to add this to their wish list. I think I need to reread it to take it all in again as I raced through it in one weekend! Simon Mayo is a must read author for me now!Thank you to Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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