The Knowing by Emma Hinds – Book Review

The Knowing by Emma Hinds – Book Review

The Knowing by Emma Hinds

The Knowing

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In the slums of 19th-century New York. A tattooed mystic fights for her life. Her survival hangs on the turn of a tarot card.

Powerful, intoxicating and full of suspense. *The Knowing* is a darkly spellbinding novel about a girl fighting for her survival in the decaying criminal underworlds.

Whilst working as a living canvas for an abusive tattoo artist, Flora meets Minnie, an enigmatic circus performer who offers her love and refuge in an opulent townhouse, home to the menacing Mr Chester Merton. Flora earns her keep reading tarot cards for his guests whilst struggling to harness her gift, the Knowing – an ability to summon the dead. Caught in a dark love triangle between Minnie and Chester, Flora begins to unravel the secrets inside their house. Then at her first public séance, Flora hears the spirit of a murdered boy prostitute and exposes his killer, setting off a train of events which put her life at risk.

The Knowing is a stunning debut inspired by real historical characters including Maud Wagner, one of the first known female tattoo artists, New York gang the Dead Rabbits, and characters from PT Barnum’s circus.

Something Powerful Is Coming.

Review by Stacey

The Knowing is a Gothic historical fiction novel that offers a captivating journey into the 19th century and begins in the slums of New York. Flora is a painted lady and tattoo artist working for the man who took her for his own and treated her badly. He inked her skin with his designs and used her body whenever he wished. She has a ‘gift’ called The Knowing which she buries deep and tries to hide from others.

Flora meets Minnie who is a circus performer. Minnie thinks Flora would be a wonderful addition to the circus crew and invites her to break free from her oppressor and come and work at the circus reading tarot cards for the guests.

But has Flora really escaped the darkness and violence or has she just moved from one bad situation to another?

The Knowing is an unusual book, stepped in history and surrounded by a sense of foreboding and the supernatural. Flora is a character that has been let down by society and is lost. She is physically and mentally drained from what she has been through, plus, she has this gift in which she can see and hear the dead that she hides from others and tries to keep their voices silent until during a séance when she is informed of a murder by a ghost.

The plot is suspenseful and had me intrigued from the beginning. It contains aspects of paranormal activity that were certainly eerie. The plot was fast-paced and enjoyable. Whilst I connected and enjoyed Flora’s story I wasn’t much a fan of Minnie as I couldn’t shake this bad vibe feeling that surrounded her whenever she appeared.

Overall, The Knowing is an atmospheric and engrossing read. Readers will find themselves immersed in Flora’s world and transported back in time with ease meeting some real-life historical figures in the process.

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Emma Hinds

Emma Hinds

Emma is a queer playwright living in Manchester with a focus on telling untold feminist narratives. Her latest play, PURE, was featured in Turn On festival at Hope Mill Theatre Manchester in 2021 and she was the recipient of the Artist Development grant 2021 at Hope Mill Theatre.

She has written a few previous non-fiction books in her capacity as an academic with an essay published in Tarantino and Theology with Gray Matter Books and her book Ineffable Love: Christian Themes in Good Omens published by Darton Longman & Todd.

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