Recommend: Yes, with restrictions
Genres: Historical fiction, literary fiction
Add it to your TBR: Goodreads
I have received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Unspeakable tells the story of Thomas Aikenhead, the last person in Britain to be executed for blasphemy. It’s such an interesting story! Unfortunately, I could not finish this book, but I did think it was worth 3 stars. I will explain in the next paragraphs.
The writing is really amusing and authentic and the author has such talent. It is so well done it’s easy to picture the characters and Scotland back in the late 1600s. The main character Thomas is smart, inquisitive and curious. I was particularly fond of the not-so-subtle criticism to the church and law. It made me smirk many times as I read.
However, my problem with this book is that the Scottish accent is translated into the dialogues, which, especially for non-native English speakers like me, can make it hard to follow. I simply could not finish this book. It was an exhaustive mental exercise to translate something twice and try to guess what those words could possibly mean (“Nocht”, “ken”, etc…), which took away my pleasure for reading it. If not for that, it would have been a really, really good and interesting book, which is why I decided to give it 3 stars. If it wasn’t for my trouble reading it, I would have given it 5. It is such an amazing critique of that time, and I hardly ever read stories set in Scotland, which was particularly interesting to me.
Verdict: This is such an interesting story about a young man who ultimately will be hanged for blasphemy. Set in Scotland in the late 1600s, it is written so well the reader feels as if they were there, too. The dialogue as a literal speech transcription, however, made it really hard for me to read this book, and turned an otherwise great read into a laborious exercise for me. If you have no problem reading this type of dialogue, I recommend this book very much.