Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review: The Flesh Market by Richard Wright

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Flesh Market
Author: Richard Wright
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Paperback; 376
Release Date: February 10, 2014
Source: Author
Genre: Thriller / Historical Fiction

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy darker tales, with a hint of history hiding underneath.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
"Doon the wynds an' up the streets,
Where revenants sought souls tae eat,
The Butcher called for twitching meat
An' Burke an' Hare did answer." -anon.

1827. A year after the Cadaver Riots tore the heart from Edinburgh. Fear still chokes the Old Town, for though the revenants were driven back with shot and steel, they still lurk in the city's shadowed closes. When night falls, they strike.

In dissecting rooms anatomists slice twitching flesh as they dream of cures and glory. For the greatest among them, Robert Knox, there is no price that cannot be met in the quest for knowledge. Behind closed doors he trades in walking death, dealing with devils to keep the flesh market supplied...

Set between the slums of 19th Century Edinburgh and the ivory towers of its academia, The Flesh Market is an almost true story of murder, mad science, obsession, and the restless dead.

It's no secret that I adore the way Richard Wright weaves his stories. Thy Fearful Symmetry, a story about the very brutal end of the world, shocked me. Craven Place, an unsettling ghost story, wooed me with its setting. I don't quite know what it is about Wright's writing, but I eat it up every single time. He has me in his grasp, and I'm perfectly okay with that.

The Flesh Market was no exception to this rule, and definitely my favorite so far. A stunning mixture of historical fiction and dark suspense, it focuses on the Burke & Hare murders of 1800's Edinburgh, Scotland. Fascinating stuff, that. A lack of medical cadavers means good money to those who deliver them in secret. A person could get wealthy off of "finding" bodies for the doctors. Except, in Richard Wright's novel, sometimes delivering those bodies isn't as easy as it seems. Sometimes, the dead don't stay dead.

Ah, I loved this! Anything that can breathe new life into the zombie craze is my hero, but Wright does it with a flair all his own. At the forefront of this novel are our anti-heroes, Burke & Hare. One, a man who simply wanted a better life for his family. The other, already touched with the madness that would allow him to commit such atrocities. I watched as Burke slowly circled the drain, heading deeper into Hare's clutches. Even if the undead had been completely left out of this story, I would have been hooked. These two, and the darkness that creeps in around them, was terrifying in its own right. It's unnerving what two men can be reduced to.

That being said, the undead added an underlying tension to this story. Wright expertly used them as means to keep this sense of dread going throughout. They aren't the main facet of this story, but neither are they unnecessary. Their presence serves to remind the reader where it all began, and to highlight exactly why Burke, Hare and Knox are covered in darkness. Each character was perfectly placed, each event expertly crafted to allow optimum intrigue. It got to the point where I couldn't put this book down. Literally. I'd be reading with one hand while ironing with the other. There's a slow burn at the beginning, and it leads to something wonderful.

I'm not sure how else to say it. Read this. Especially if you're a fan of historical fiction. While this is definitely a dark story, it isn't over the top gory or violent. If you're not a big fan of horror, don't be put off by the title. This is well worth your time.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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