newgen books for YA readers debuts of the month
Search our site
Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron Read the opening extract of the brand new Sophie Cameron book before its publication on 22/03/2018

Reader Reviewed
The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis

The Butcher's Hook

Historical Fiction   All Shortlists and Winners   Debuts of the Month   Family Drama   Literary Fiction   Reading Groups   eBook Favourites   
Download an extract Discuss on Facebook Discuss this book on our Literary Contemporary Facebook group Share this book

Lovereading view...

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2016.

March 2016 MEGA Debut of the Month.

Our first-person narrator, Anne Jaccobs, is an extraordinary young woman for her period. This is Georgian London in 1763 and she a lady eager to learn. When her tutor oversteps the mark she diverts and becomes infatuated with Fub, the butcher’s boy. Her well-to-do family have plans for her but 19-year old Anne is an interesting, forceful character. In a novel rich in period detail we follow this spirited girl through some highly unexpected scenarios which two-thirds of the way through the book turn into a bawdy romp. At times dark, at times humorous, this is an historical novel not to be missed, a debut from the much-loved Blue Peter presenter. ~ Sarah Broadhurst

If you like Janet Ellis you might also like to read books by Hallie Rubenhold, Emma Donoghue and Sarah Waters.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Melanie Kane - 'I found this to be quite a dark psychological novel that I could and then couldn't predict...I was blown away by this title and still unsure if it was in a good or bad way.'
  • Vicky-Leigh Sayer - 'The Butcher's Hook is a rare glimpse into the darker side of Georgian London. An exquisite debut novel with memorable characters that left me wanting more.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'This book really surprised me! I had no idea it was going to go in the direction that it went at the end. So good!'.
  • Catherine Bryce - A thrilling dark historical novel that has your complete attention from the beginning to end.'
  • Lorraine Blencoe - 'This is a gripping story, very relevant for society today but told from a very different perspective. Highly recommended read.'
  • Doreen McKeown - 'a dark story, although the prose is amusing in places, and the writing style, although of the age, is very readable. This is an impressive first novel - I look forward to more.'
  • Helen Skinner - 'Unusual and imaginative...a dark and twisted tale of Georgian London! This is an impressive debut novel and I'll look forward to more from Janet Ellis!'
  • Carrie Johnson - 'Anne Jaccob is not a particularly likeable heroine, but she is fascinating and her observations are sharp and the end with its twists & turns I was hooked, and didn’t want to put it down.' 
  • Jane Macleod - 'If you like great characterisation, emotion, and a slice of historical drama then you will enjoy this book.'
  • Annie Day - 'An atmospheric tale of love, lust and violence in Georgian enjoyable and memorable book...It is a dark tale, however, and not for the faint hearted!'
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'Took me a while to get into this – didn’t engage with the central character initially.  But so glad I kept going as it became a most unexpected thriller.'
  • Beth Winsor - 'A really surprising tale, with an unusual heroine! I was riveted by this startling coming of age tale and couldn't wait to find out where she ended up.'


The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis

The debut novel by actress and presenter Janet Ellis. A dark and twisted tale set in 18th century London. Georgian London, in the summer of 1763. At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher's apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him. The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead. Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub. But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands. A vivid and surprising tale, The Butcher's Hook brims with the colour and atmosphere of Georgian London, as seen through the eyes of a strange and memorable young woman. -~-~-~-~-~- 'Do you know what this is?' He holds a short twist of thick metal, in the shape of the letter 'S', sharpened at both ends. I shake my head. 'A butcher's hook,' he says, testing the tip of his finger against each point. 'A perfect design. Whichever way up you use it, it's always ready. One end to hook, the other to hang. It has only one simple purpose.' He stands on a stool and fixes it over the bar above him. It waits there, empty. He climbs down. 'Pleasing, isn't it?'


'a spirited, dark debut set in Georgian London with a heroine who will stop at nothing to get what she wants Woman and Home Ellis has created something marvellous in the character of Anne Jaccob - her voice is strange, dark and utterly mesmeric. This is historical fiction as I've never encountered it before: full of viscera, snarling humour and obsessive desire. I loved it.' Hannah Kent, bestselling author of BURIAL RITES

'Beautifully crafted. Janet Ellis is a masterful storyteller' Clare Mackintosh, bestselling author of I LET YOU GO

About the Author

Janet Ellis

Janet Ellis trained as an actress at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She is best known for presenting Blue Peter and contributes to numerous radio and TV programmes. She recently graduated from the Curtis Brown creative writing school. The Butcher's Hook is her first novel.

Photo credit: Leigh Quinell

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading similar books...
Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

25th February 2016


Janet Ellis

More books by Janet Ellis
Author 'Like for Like'

Author's Website
Loading twitter updates...


Two Roads an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division


368 pages


Historical Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
Debuts of the Month
Family Drama
Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites

Historical mysteries



The selections are so varied and the reader reviews are so helpful. A fantastic website for those who love books.

Ann Quintilla

You can trust Lovereading to show unbiased reviews by actual, ordinary readers that help likeminded booklovers choose their next great read.

Linda Hill

My favourite thing about is the 'like for like' page this has really introduced me to some good reads! That and lots of honest reviews.

Sam Lewis

Ever purchased a book, read a few pages & thought I'm not going to enjoy this? Honest book reviews mean you'll never have that problem again

Jill Peters

The best new books on the market, reviewed honestly, to give your readers the best choices.

Julie Cook

Why I love @lovereadinguk? It's in the name - as dedicated lovers of reading, they are perfect matchmakers for helping me find my next read!

Catherine Jenkins

I love 'try before you buy' extracts. I love the wide range of authors & genres. I love the author info. I love books!

Judi Davies

Discover new authors and enjoy old favourites; oodles of literary gems to uncover at Lovereading with candid reviews from real reviewers.

Emily Wright