See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt – Book Review

I’m working on getting caught up with my NetGalley books and this one has been sitting on my shelf for months. I finally started reading it a few weeks ago. You can read my book review below.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt


“Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away.” —Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

Blurb: In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.

  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (August 1, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802126596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802126597

My Review:

I was so excited to start this book because I love retellings and honestly didn’t know the whole story behind the accusations of Lizzie Bordon murdering her parents with an ax in 1892. I decided to get online and read about the true story so that I would have an idea about what really went down that August morning in 1892.

The book starts with an introduction to that morning the ax murdering took place in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie’s father Andrew and her stepmother Abby were both found axed to death and the only person in sight when someone finally arrives to help is Lizzie. Everyone wants to know who the perpetrator is. Who could commit such horrible acts of crime and why would they want to hurt these people?

tenor.gifFor me, the first half of the book was not intriguing at all. I felt like the characters were flat and boring and the narrative was confusing at times, mainly because of Lizzie’s thoughts with the jumping back and forth between reality and what was going on in her head. I wasn’t enjoying the writing style at all. Then, when I got to the last half of the book, I became very interested in who the real killer was here. It could be Lizzie, but she’s not reliable and her thoughts are all over the place. Is she being honest? What about Uncle John and Benjamin? There are clues and accusations along the way, but the reader is left to wonder until the very end what actually happened.

Overall, The author has spun her own version of the tale and it’s spellbinding at times. I’m happy that I stuck with it and didn’t give up. Some people say that the book is gruesome, but I didn’t think it was too gory on the details. I really appreciated the timeline the author provided in the back of the book. If you’d like more true information on the events that took place, you might want to watch “Histories Mysteries: The Strange Case of Lizzie Bordon.” This is truly a compelling mystery.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book for review.

My rating on this is 3.5 stars



About the Author:


Sarah Schmidt is a Melbourne based writer who happens to work at a public library.
See What I Have Done is her first novel.

Sarah is currently watching:
Twin Peaks (Season 3)
A shit ton of YouTube for ‘research purposes’

Sarah is currently reading:
Blue Light Yokohama by Nicholas Obregon
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace – Patty Yumi Cottrell

Things Sarah has burnt this week:
A rare burn free week. It’s a miracle!

Sarah is currently listening to the following podcasts:

Ear Hustle
It’s Not A Race
The Moth
How Did This Get Made
The Allusionist
You Must Remember This
Comedy Bang Bang
Death, Sex & Money

This week’s random useless fact:
Sarah once won a meat tray at Bingo with her grandmother in the 80s.

Tell us one more thing?
Sarah has never read Charles Dickens (not even at school or uni as the prescribed texts) but she’s aware of his back catalogue. Although she did watch Bleak House starring Gillian Anderson and thought that was great. – Goodreads

You can Find Sarah Schmidt on:

Goodreads | Amazon | Website

There is a Q&A on Sarah Schmidt’s website with popular questions regarding her book See What I Have Done.

Have you read See What I Have Done or do you plan to? Please feel free to share your thoughts below. As always, thanks for reading.

20 thoughts on “See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt – Book Review

  1. I’ve read so many reviews of this now and everyone has a slightly different take, it’s really interesting. This is completely out of my comfort zone but I’m quite intrigued by it, I may give it a go one day, you know, when the TBR pile looks decent!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m definitely planning on picking this up, I LOVE READING ABOUT AXE MURDERERS. okay wait that sounds kind of creepy, I obviously don’t love axe murderers themselves, but reading about them/their motivations is prettyyy cool. but it’s too bad you couldn’t enjoy it as much as you’d hoped!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Book Review: See What I Have Done, by Sarah Schmidt | bookwanderer

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