It is 1752. As winter approaches, two guilty secrets drive 17-year-old Agnes Trussel to run away from her home in rural Sussex. Pregnant with an unwanted child and carrying stolen coins, she is shocked by the squalor of London. She finds work as an assistant to a firework-maker, John Blacklock. Soon she meets Cornelius Soul, seller of gunpowder, and hatches a plan which could save her. But why does Blacklock disapprove of Mr Soul? And what is Blacklock hiding from her?
Meanwhile, her own secret is becoming harder to conceal, especially from the suspicious eye of Mrs Blight, the housekeeper with a thirst for hangings. Caught between her crime and condition, it appears that ruin must be inevitable.
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A dark and beautiful story