Book Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

#BookReview @IKillNovel #SeeWhatIHaveDone

Lizzie Borden took an axe,

And gave her Mother forty whacks,

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her Father forty-one.

See What I Have Done is a gripping retelling of the Lizzie Borden murders, that took place in 1892. Living in the UK I wasn’t too familiar with this rhyme, but apparently it is very well known in the US (perhaps I’ve just been living under a rock?).


The tale is cleverly told from multiple perspectives, which I’m a huge fan of, and is predominantly set over the 3rd and 4th August 1892. We hear from a range of characters including Lizzie Borden, her sister Emma, the family’s maid Bridget and Benjamin – an acquaintance of Lizzie’s Uncle. As the story unfolds we start to question who is telling the truth and whether Lizzie was alone during her killing spree and if it was even her that committed the murder of her Father and step-mother!

As a character Lizzie is chillingly dark and devious, with a wicked streak painted through her. We see this during her interactions with her sister and father. As a thirty-two-year-old living at home, the book makes us question her – why is she a spinster living in the family home, unmarried and without children? In the late 19th Century this would have been something of an oddity.

The narrative is effortless to read and brilliantly claustrophobic. I felt like a fly on the wall in the Borden household seeing the sadness and madness erupt from within. Schmidt’s writing is vivid, an absolute assault on the senses; you see, hear, feel and taste everything that happens at 92 Second Street, from the juicy overripe pears that the characters devour to the molten blood that is congealing on the floorboards beneath her Father’s head.

One thing to remember is that this is a story about a crime, and a literary historical thriller, so fans of more hard-core, gory, detective mysteries might find this a lighter, easier read (but I should add that it’s one that’s well worth it!).

This is a well-researched true crime story that really gets under your skin; I was utterly absorbed from the first page to the last. A fantastic debut to keep an eye out for!


Give it a go if you enjoyed: His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet or The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

Author: Sarah Schmidt
Published by: Tinder Press
Hardback: 336 pages

See What I Have Done will be published in the UK on 2nd May 2017 – you can pre-order through my book depository link here.


3 thoughts on “Book Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt”

  1. […] Effortless to read and brilliantly claustrophobic See What I Have Done is the fictional retelling of the alleged Lizzie Borden murders. This is an absolutely cracking debut and one that you should go out and buy asap! The lovely folk at Tinder Press are doing a huge marketing campaign around the book and I’m positive it will have great mainstream success. You can read more about the story here. […]


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