Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Will Starling by Ian Weir

"A man standing straddle-legged, pelvis outthrust and one-eyed lad in hand, braced on the lip of merd-urinous Fleet ditch in the blackness of a cool spring night with an aaaahhhh. That's where it all began to turn - assuming that anything can really be said to begin anywhere, and isn't one great tangle of consequence snarling all the way back to Adam's first rumpety-bump with Eve." Opening Sentences

Synopsis:  The Reckoning of WM. STARLING, Esq., a Foundling, concerning Monstrous Crimes and Infernal Aspirations, with Perpetrators Named and Shrouded Infamies disclosed to Light of Day, as set down by his Own Hand in this year 1816

London, 1816. The Napoleonic War is over, Romanticism is at its high tide, and the great city is charged with the thrill of scientific discovery and Regency abandon. The nineteen-year-old foundling Will Starling returns from the Continent, having spent five years assisting military surgeon Alec Comrie, and now is helping Comrie build a civilian practice in London's rough Cripplegate area. This means entering into an uneasy alliance with the Doomsday Men: grave robbers who supply surgeons with cadavers for dissection. There are wild rumors about Dionysus Atherton, an old university friend of Comrie's and the brightest of London's emerging surgical stars, whispers of experiments on corpses not quite dead, in a bid to unlock the mystery of death itself. Will works obsessively to ferret out the truth; the investigation twists and turns through brothels and charnel houses and the mansions of Mayfair.

Review by Mirella Patzer

The Novel, Will Starling, takes readers back in time to London's darkest alleys where bawdiness rules and death prevails. It is a dark tale sprinkled with grave robbing and the seedier side of life in London during the early 1800’s.

Will Starling is a well developed character, intriguing, entertaining, clever. The author did a wonderful job of bringing him to life. I loved the dry, sharp wit of this character, and the writing, and how it broke up some of the darkness. 
Although I enjoyed the story, I found the book to be a challenging read as there is quite a bit of vernacular and slang. It took some getting used to, but if you slow down your reading pace, it will make sense. My other comment was that there was an overabundance of characters, something which I am not fond of as it bogs down the story and makes reading less enjoyable. Also, for those who are historical fiction purists, be warned that there is a paranormal element in this novel, but it was well done and didn’t sensationalize. As I read along there were moments of great suspense as well as areas where the pacing lagged somewhat. Overall, it was an interesting novel and worth the read as long as you are prepared for the challenges.   

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