Books

Review of The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley #Fantasy #HistoricalFiction

Review

The Bedlam Stacks

by Natasha Pulley

Release date: August 1st, 2017

Bedlam Stacks Cover

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of ย 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 ย 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 itโ€™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 difficultย 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.

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Books

Review of Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Cover Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Review

Down Among the Sticks and Bones

by Seanan McGuire

Release date: June 13, 2017

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire  from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.

Seanan McGuire is definitely one of my favourite fantasy authors. Her books have it all, perfect prose, masterful plots, exciting worlds and engaging characters and the same is true with her Wayward Children series.
Among the Stick and Bones is the second story and a prequel to Every Heart A Doorway. Among the Sticks and Bones shares the events that led sisters Jack and Jill to Miss West’s Home for Wayward Children.

We first meet parents Chester and Selena Wolcott, more concerned with social status and proper appearances than raising twins Jacqueline (Jack) and Jillian (Jill). To them, the twins are nothing more than accessories which they form and mold into their “perfect children”.  Seanan McGuire is never shy in addressing tough themes such as emotional abuse and gender equality, I for one applaud her for that and in this book she tackles them head on. As Jack and Jill get older they begin to get resentful and frustrated with the other. Jack molded to assume the “girly girl” role and Jill the “tom boy” begin to become overwhelmingly jealous of the other.

When a rainy day forces the twins to spend time together, out of boredom they decide to play in an attic where a mysterious staircase appears. When the girls descend the staircase, they enter into another world filled with conflict, creatures and danger. Upon arriving in the new world, they soon learn that things are not as they seem. The story follows both girls in the “new world” for a period of five years. Jill living as a princess in the castle with “the Master” while Jack takes on the difficult and often gruesome work as the Doctor’s apprentice. We begin to see the girls evolve away from their “formed” personalities and through a bizarre occurrence of events, they transform into their new roles.

I read both books out of order but enjoyed them both. I’m not sure whether reading them out of order would matter but I personally found that by reading the prequel first, I viewed Jack and Jill with a bit more empathy in Every Heart. I also think there was more of a surprise and sense of urgency, I needed to read Every Heart a Doorway to find out what happened to the girls.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone wanting to go on an adventure.