Book Reviews

The Bedlam Stacks: By the Internationally Bestselling Author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

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List Price: £12.99

 

Hardcover: 352 Pages.

Published: 13 July 2017 by Bloomsbury Circus

Edition: 01

ISBN: 1408878445

EAN: 9781408878446

Deep in uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a forest. The shrine statues move, and anyone who crosses the border dies. But somewhere inside are cinchona trees, whose bark yields quinine: the only known treatment for malaria.

On the other side of the Pacific, it is 1859 and India is ravaged by the disease. The hunt for a reliable source of quinine is critical and in its desperation, the India Office searches out its last qualified expeditionary. Struggling with a terrible injury from his last mission and the strange occurrences at his family's ruined estate, Merrick Tremayne finds himself under orders to bring back cinchona cuttings at any cost and dispatched, against his own better judgement, to Bedlam.

There he meets Raphael, a priest around whom the villagers spin unsettlingly familiar stories of impossible disappearances and living stone. Gradually, he realises that Raphael is the key to a legacy left by two generations of Tremayne explorers before him, one which will prove more dangerous and valuable than the India Office could ever have imagined.

Reviews

4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Intersting Combination of History & Fantasy

This is an interesting combination of historical fiction with some fantasy & a bit of steampunk thrown in.

Merrick is sent off to Peru on an expedition with his "friend" Clem with whom he seems to have a love/hate relationship. They are sent by the Government, with some input from the East India Company, to smuggle out some trees that produce quinine in order to tackle the growing problem of malaria in India. Whilst in Peru Merrick meets Raphael a seemingly ageless man who lives in a very strange community on top of glass stacks.

I struggled with the beginning of this book as I originally imagined Merrick as a woman which took a long time to get out of my mind. I have no idea why I felt Merrick was female. Merrick is a second son whose older brother has inherited the family home which is sinking into disrepair. Merrick has had an interesting past life smuggling tea and opium in China before an injury has made him retire home. Merrick is a generally nice character and one to whom I found it easy to relate & want the best for. The supporting cast are far more complicated. Clem is an upper class bore who thinks he is better than everyone else and knows all there is to know about everything. I did laugh at one point when Merrick got fed up of him & pushed him into a river!

This is a complex book with many strange ideas which are not going to suit everyone. Many of the events and places within Peru, including the vegetation and stone statues are very strange and will require a large leap of imagination. I was quite happy to accept these and enjoyed the great imagination of the author.

The historical background for this book seems to be well researched. I am not an historical expert but it certainly rang true for me. The travel arrangements and stories about opium trading in China certainly fitted in with my limited knowledge of the period.

I read this author's previous work - The Watchmaker of Filigree Street - and didn't really get on with it. However I did settle well into this book and enjoyed it much more than the previous one. I am glad that I gave the author a second try.

So if you fancy a strange combination of history and fantasy with exploding trees and moving stone statues then theis is well worth a read!

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.

 
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