This incredible story is based on true events concerning young Betsy Roberts – how she was kidnapped, abused but survived America’s first serial killers – the evil Harpe brothers – how she outlived and ultimately profited using her wits and sheer determination.
Betsy Roberts, a young woman from Kentucky is brutally kidnapped by notorious outlaws Micajah and Wiley Harpe who abuse then exploit her. The novel describes how Betsy uses her wits and courage to survive, and then ultimately prosper despite the most appalling conditions and treatment she suffers, in the wilderness of late eighteenth century America. She gradually becomes tainted by the evil, murderous activities of the Harpe brothers who, amongst other things, use her as bait to lure travelers to their deaths. She does this under duress initially but later becomes indifferent, even to the extent of being a willing accomplice.
Part 2 of the novel describes her long, gruelling journey of escape to New York in the early eighteen hundreds. It covers how she became a key figure there, developing businesses, illicit and legal, and the family dynasty she establishes.
The story is an extraordinary and gripping tale of horrific violence, a kaleidoscope of extraordinary characters, settings and and yet also incredible willpower, survival instincts. Betsy ultimately becomes a strong, determined woman but also uses almost any means to achieve her ends.
If there’s one thing that I like doing, it’s discovering new authors and N. G. Neville is certainly a new author for me. ‘Betsy Roberts’ is based on true historical events. People who know me well know that not only am I a book geek but I am also a history nerd and so you can probably understand why this book appealed to me so much. I couldn’t wait to jump into the book so without further ado, I grabbed a cup of tea, grabbed my Kindle and settled down for what proved to be one hell of a story. I really enjoyed reading ‘Betsy Roberts’ but more about that in a bit.
I was drawn into this story from the very first word on the very first page. It didn’t take me long to realise that I would have great difficulty putting the book to one side for any length of time. I was spot on too. My Kindle wasn’t exactly glued to my hand but it might as well have been because it travelled everywhere with me as I couldn’t bear to miss a single second of the story. I became so engrossed in the story that I lost all track of time and just how quickly I was getting through the story and how quickly the time was passing. I was staggered when I realised that a couple of hours had passed by and I had read about a third of the book in one go. I can’t say that I particularly liked the characters as they scared the poop out of me but in certain instances I did feel sorry for them. I soon got to the end of the book. I found ‘Betsy Roberts’ to a gripping, page turner of a read, which kept me guessing and which kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.
‘Betsy Roberts’ is well written. The author certainly knows how to grab the reader’s attention and draw them into the story from the very start. For me, the story hit the ground running and maintained a fast and scary pace throughout. Reading ‘Betsy Roberts’ was a bit like being on a scary and unpredictable rollercoaster ride with several twists and turns along the way. Just when you thought that you could take a moment to gather your thoughts, reclaim your stomach and catch a breath then off the action would go again. Through the author’s very vivid and realistic storytelling, I got a real sense of what life must have been like for Betsy Roberts during the late 1700s/ early 1800s. The author certainly tackles some difficult subjects but does so in a matter of fact way and not a gratuitous way.
In short, I really enjoyed reading ‘Betsy Roberts’ and I would recommend this book to other readers. I will certainly be reading more from this author in the future. The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.