The Conviction of Cora Burns: Book Review

By Sam Jacquest


The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

Purchase from Blue House Books


This book was a total "judging a book by its cover" purchase and it did not disappoint! The Conviction of Cora Burns is a historical fiction novel set in the late 1800s, and opens in a women's prison in England. Cora Burns is a nineteen-year-old convict with no hope for her future and a mysterious invitation to join the employment of an English gentleman. More out of necessity than excitement, Cora takes the position, while trying to piece together the puzzle of her past.

Cora grew up in a British orphanage, having been born to a convict in Birmingham Goal (the same women's prison Cora would later end up). She never knew her mother's name until she left the orphanage at sixteen, finally seeing her birth certificate for the first time. Her father's name is, unsurprisingly, blank, as are many memories from the past sixteen years. Cora's only companion in her tragic living conditions was Alice Salt, a girl who felt more like a sister, yet left Cora alone in the orphanage after a tragic incident that is still unclear to Cora years later. On her sixteenth birthday, Cora vows to find Alice, but instead ends up on yet another unfortunate path that leads her to the Goal.


Carolyn Kirby brings us a fascinating story filled with countless twists. Her skills of foreshadowing left me constantly eager to learn what happens next, and unbelievably satisfied when I was able to figure out several secrets even before Cora came tot eh same conclusions. Even with my cunning detective skills, Kirby left a few last minute twists that left me immensely satisfied with the ending, although sad to close the book.


I would recommend The Conviction of Cora Burns to anyone who likes a good mystery or historical novel. Readers will be able to relate to and empathize with Cora, a complicated young woman constantly unsure of herself and determined to believe she was born bad. Cora's relationships with her coworkers, her employer, and the mysterious girl living in the fancy house, showed her desire to accept herself as a bad apple, while still subtly fighting to do better.


I love recommending The Conviction of Cora Burns to my customers, as I'm sure it's a book that any reader would love.


Sam Jacquest is the owner of Blue House Books. She graduated from Oxford Brookes University in the UK with a Master of the Arts degree in Publishing. After struggling to find a publishing job in the Midwest, Sam decided to start her own business, and Blue House Books as born. Sam strives to bring the love of reading to her community through her store, events, and literacy programs. Sam is also a freelance editor, and loves that reading and being surrounded by books is her full time job!


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