The Bedlam Stacks
by Natasha Pulley
Release date: August 1st, 2017
I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.
To start off with The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley is a well written, complex and captivating story which, I found intriguing and thoroughly enjoyed. To me, this is a book unlike any other I have read, which is saying a great deal. Although it is hard to define if I were to generalize I would say it’s a mixture of historical fiction and fantasy.
Set in the 19th century, the protagonist, former East Indian Trading company smuggler, Merrick Tremayne, is living a dismal life with his brother in a dilapidated estate in Cornwall. Left with a bad leg, Merrick seems to have given up on life, enduring bizarre and difficult circumstances bound to push him to the edge. At his lowest point, he is offered an opportunity to go on an adventure. After an outbreak of malaria and a shortage of quinine, the East Indian Trading Company contact Merrick about going on an expedition to Peru to acquire cinchona cuttings so that they can produce their own quinine supply. The Peruvian Government has a monopoly on the quinine trade and is very protective of their crops which potentially will make this expedition a very dangerous one. Although dangerous, with the encouragement of his friend Clem and wife Minna, as well as a family connection to Bedlam, Merrick agrees to go. Once in Peru, Merrick and Clem are guided to Bedlam (New Bethlehem) by a priest, Raphael. Without giving away too much, their trip to Bedlam takes strange twists and turns leading the reader on a fantastic journey rich with folklore, myths, and magic.
Natasha Pulley has done an exquisite job with this novel, full of fantastic imagery, characters that come to life, rich, well-researched world building and beautiful and flawless prose. My only criticism is that it did move at a slow pace at times making it difficult to get into but by midpoint, I felt the story beautifully unfold and was so glad I persevered. The Bedlam Stacks is not a quick read but in my opinion is definitely one that should be savoured and enjoyed.