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The Resurrectionist

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The Resurrectionist PDF, ePub eBook London, 1826. Leaving behind his father's tragic failures, Gabriel Swift arrives to study with Edwin Poll, the greatest of the city's anatomists. It is his chance to find advancement by making a name for himself. But instead he finds himself drawn to his master's nemesis, Lucan, the most powerful of the city's resurrectionists and ruler of its trade in stolen bodies. Dismi London, 1826. Leaving behind his father's tragic failures, Gabriel Swift arrives to study with Edwin Poll, the greatest of the city's anatomists. It is his chance to find advancement by making a name for himself. But instead he finds himself drawn to his master's nemesis, Lucan, the most powerful of the city's resurrectionists and ruler of its trade in stolen bodies. Dismissed by Mr Poll, Gabriel descends into the violence and corruption of London's underworld, a place where everything and everyone is for sale, and where - as Gabriel discovers - the taking of a life is easier than it might seem.

30 review for The Resurrectionist

  1. 5 out of 5

    Verity (The Cosy Reading Nest)

    This book is undoubtedley one of the worst books I have ever read. The plot jerks from one thought to another with no real explanation, the "gory" parts made me yawn and absolutley no part of this novel was haunting like the synopsis promised it would be. Aside from the bad writing, my main problem with it is that just as the book promises to be getting bearable, (over half way through!!) the plot line inexplicabley changes and it is as if Bradley has begun a new novel. Which is just as boring as This book is undoubtedley one of the worst books I have ever read. The plot jerks from one thought to another with no real explanation, the "gory" parts made me yawn and absolutley no part of this novel was haunting like the synopsis promised it would be. Aside from the bad writing, my main problem with it is that just as the book promises to be getting bearable, (over half way through!!) the plot line inexplicabley changes and it is as if Bradley has begun a new novel. Which is just as boring as the one before. All this, and the ending was laughable. Save your time and money!

  2. 4 out of 5

    CS

    James Bradley is an accomplished author, and his sense of atmosphere and mood are among the best I've read. His use of words is brilliant. Unfortunately, he uses them in a muddied, Grand Guignol-esque story with a less than three dimensional central character. He also has an annoying habit of jumping forward in the narrative, then using flashback, more told than shown, to fill in the missing details. The hero, Gabriel, is more acted upon than acts himself. Bradley makes up back story as it suits James Bradley is an accomplished author, and his sense of atmosphere and mood are among the best I've read. His use of words is brilliant. Unfortunately, he uses them in a muddied, Grand Guignol-esque story with a less than three dimensional central character. He also has an annoying habit of jumping forward in the narrative, then using flashback, more told than shown, to fill in the missing details. The hero, Gabriel, is more acted upon than acts himself. Bradley makes up back story as it suits him for his character. (view spoiler)[ At first, Gabriel is shown washing the corpses his employer uses for anatomy lessons with care, and he demonstrates a sense of remorse and caring toward both the dead lesson objects and the living people of his acquaintance. However, later, when the story requires Gabriel to turn into a serial killer of sorts, the author reveals that Gabriel has psychopathic tendencies - he enjoyed watching a servant kill a cat when he was a child. But this is at odds with Gabriel's earlier depiction - and since the story is told in Gabriel's first person it's hard to reconcile the two. (hide spoiler)] I'm sure the book is meant to be an elegant, literary rumination on life, death, and the thin thread that connects us to each other - but by the time (view spoiler)[Gabriel gets to Australia (hide spoiler)] I had lost all interest in what that rumination might be.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I think I've identified the main problem with this book: every character is unlikeable, or boring, so that I honestly couldn't care less about what happens to any of them. Still, I pressed on determined to finish (admittedly this probably fueled my dislike). Not only are the characters horrible, but there's so many of them with generic Victorian names that I regularly mistook them for one another. Luckily this barely seemed to affect the plot, and may have made some of them more well-rounded, as I think I've identified the main problem with this book: every character is unlikeable, or boring, so that I honestly couldn't care less about what happens to any of them. Still, I pressed on determined to finish (admittedly this probably fueled my dislike). Not only are the characters horrible, but there's so many of them with generic Victorian names that I regularly mistook them for one another. Luckily this barely seemed to affect the plot, and may have made some of them more well-rounded, as several people only turned up once, never to be seen again. Gabriel's downfall is vivid and well written, but quite predictable. Some of his anecdotes surrounding his past were unnecessary and jarring; nstead of bringing the character to life they over-complicate him to the point of confusion (Wait, suddenly we find he likes seeing kittens murdered?!). As I finally felt the story gaining some rhythm and purpose to it (a shocking 3/4 through), Bradley flings us into another continent and situation. Eventually it becomes clear that the book hasn't been bound incorrectly, but only after dragging through the tedium of yet more lacklustre names and conversations, by which point I think I was actually fuming that the writer would abuse it's readers so much. I understand that the book is meant to be all noir and about his journey and his life getting twisted up with death. For me though, it moved crushingly slowly with no real purpose, despite the promising quality of the writing. I wasn't even particularly disturbed by Gabriel or the events unfolding, although I'm sure I was intended to be; everything was just tainted by my overwhelming disinterest.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cate Earnshaw

    Unsettlingly beautiful descriptions of the underbelly of Georgian London. Bradley is a wordsmith; this book is dank, fetid and repulsive, strangely beguiling but sadly equally unsatisfying. Usually the jacket synopsis is covered in the first few chapters, but not with this novel. Here you only reach the 3rd line of the synopsis 1/2 way through the book! So it's not exactly a pacy read. Written in the 1st person, it is sometimes difficult to know who Gabriel is talking to or looking at, but it doe Unsettlingly beautiful descriptions of the underbelly of Georgian London. Bradley is a wordsmith; this book is dank, fetid and repulsive, strangely beguiling but sadly equally unsatisfying. Usually the jacket synopsis is covered in the first few chapters, but not with this novel. Here you only reach the 3rd line of the synopsis 1/2 way through the book! So it's not exactly a pacy read. Written in the 1st person, it is sometimes difficult to know who Gabriel is talking to or looking at, but it does become clear eventually. The plot is thin, this is a meander through darkness, and a descent into failure and misery. *spoiler* (though I won't say What happens, I must comment on Where it happens). Personally I would have been more content if the novel had ceased at the 'obvious end point' or shortly after. Instead we are given an extended epilogue, taking place not in London but Australia. Whilst this section speaks of redemption and poses questions as to the nature of man, it does not add anything further to the character development nor plot. Indeed I must question whether the whole purpose was to relocate the action to the country who gave the Author a substantial financial grant.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    I'm within 40 pages of finishing this book and I have stayed up 2 nights (as I'm wont to do when I get my hands on a book I adore!) reading it after hubby goes to bed. Finished the book and nothing but kudos to the writer for a great read! This is a horrific, terrific, psychological and insane story that just captures and keeps coming at you until you're convinced Poe has you sitting by a fireplace in some dank Pennsylvanian farmhouse. It's different, unusual, beautifully written. Mr. Bradley can I'm within 40 pages of finishing this book and I have stayed up 2 nights (as I'm wont to do when I get my hands on a book I adore!) reading it after hubby goes to bed. Finished the book and nothing but kudos to the writer for a great read! This is a horrific, terrific, psychological and insane story that just captures and keeps coming at you until you're convinced Poe has you sitting by a fireplace in some dank Pennsylvanian farmhouse. It's different, unusual, beautifully written. Mr. Bradley can turn a phrase, absolutely. His writing is such that it will stop you in your tracks and make you go back to read a sentence again just to experience the beauty or the thrill or the horror of it. Every single sentence is magical and meaningful... I can do nothing but highly recommend this book to everyone. But, I have to mention this one reservation....it's not for the squeamish. The Resurrectionists were, afterall, men who robbed graves for science's sake.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amanda - Go Book Yourself

    Possibly the worst book ever written. I was really looking forward to reading this book but the character development is non existent. The first couple of pages were really interesting and I loved reading about the work of the anatomists but it all goes down hill after that. The second part of the book is just ridiculous. I ws determined to finish it but I was sorry I did.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Magdalena

    That was a really frustrating read! No real character development, plot sketchy and not really thought through. Read it if you like but I wouldn't recommend it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    Agghh - another over-hyped disappointment of a book. Rambled on; took half the book to get any sort of a story going and then lost it again. When will publishers and editors start becoming a little more selective? The whole style seemed fragmented and inconsistent. Not easy to empathise with the character either or any of them for that matter. Wish I hadn't stuck it out to the end as it wasn't worth my time. How did it get picked as a 'Richard & Judy' pick? I'd steer well clear of this one as Agghh - another over-hyped disappointment of a book. Rambled on; took half the book to get any sort of a story going and then lost it again. When will publishers and editors start becoming a little more selective? The whole style seemed fragmented and inconsistent. Not easy to empathise with the character either or any of them for that matter. Wish I hadn't stuck it out to the end as it wasn't worth my time. How did it get picked as a 'Richard & Judy' pick? I'd steer well clear of this one as it does the genre of the gothic novel a great disservice.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Helen Maltby

    I did NOT enjoy this. It seemed to leap from one thought to another and made little sense at the time. Call me old-fashioned but I like to know who a character is talking to. I'd rather the author didn't assume that because the character knows who he is talking to, then so does the reader! On the plus side it isn't so long as it appears as it is full of very short chapters with lots of white space!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nath

    I loved this book. Such an enthralling adventure into the grimiest depths of the grave robbing trade, and an excellent view of the ghastly London underworld. Great characters, excellent story and about as ghoulish a novel as I've experienced. Haven't been as chilled by a book since The Silence of the Lambs. Intensely readable but with splashes of literary magic, I feel the need to use such tired cliches as 'unputdownable' and 'page-turner', but without irony or rancour. Read it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Manisha

    Awful. Very thin plot and I couldn't care less about the characters. And what the hell was up with the ending. I seriously felt like throwing this book across the room on more than one occasion, it made me so angry and frustrated. How can a book go so wrong? Avoid.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Awful, awful, awful book. The language of the main character is horribly false and appears to be based upon James Bradley's imaginings of the way people spoke in this era, rather than any actual knowledge. A really poorly developed story.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    I had high hopes for this book, but what a let down. Events and conversations don’t make sense and the characters are very unlikeable and not engaging at all. Huge disappointment.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Annerlee

    "In their sacks they ride as in their mother's womb: knee to chest, head pressed down, as if to die is merely to return to the flesh from which we were born, and this is the second conception [-] A knife then, to cut the rope which binds the sack, and, one lifting, the other pulling, we deliver it of its contents, slipping them forth onto the table's surface, naked and cold, as a calf or child stillborn slides from its mother." Wow- what a tender, sad, beautiful start to a book... I've never expe "In their sacks they ride as in their mother's womb: knee to chest, head pressed down, as if to die is merely to return to the flesh from which we were born, and this is the second conception [-] A knife then, to cut the rope which binds the sack, and, one lifting, the other pulling, we deliver it of its contents, slipping them forth onto the table's surface, naked and cold, as a calf or child stillborn slides from its mother." Wow- what a tender, sad, beautiful start to a book... I've never experienced such a moving description of a corpse - never looked or considered the dead so closely before. If I didn't read any more of this book - the first, haunting three pages would be enough...

  15. 4 out of 5

    F.R.

    I freely admit that I threw this book down in boredom after only eighty pages. Although there seem to be interesting events taking place in the tale, the prose has a dreamy and unhurried quality, which serves only to distance the reader from the plot and left me feeling totally uninvolved. If Robert Louis Stevenson had written about body snatchers like this, they’d never have captured the public imagination.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sean Kennedy

    I think if this book had ended before the section in Australia, I would have found it a pleasantly diverting tale. But the final coda makes it so much more. It then becomes an almost metaphorical tale of the founding of Australia, and the death it was built upon. We all look for new beginnings, but are haunted by the past and never atone for it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Shilling

    The last 50 pages - an extended epilogue - are good, but the rest is predictable, thin, and over-stylized. Period pieces need to play with their conventions a bit - otherwise why bother - but Bradley wants to follow all the rules, so it's a bit prissy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    I really regret having forced myself to finish this tedious and depressing novel. I couldn't feel anything for any of the characters. They were so underdeveloped and so much of the plot was similarly shallow. A thoroughly unenjoyable read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Frustratingly slow read. I had high hopes for this as the subject matter appealed to me (yeah, I know, sorry...) but I found the style of the prose clumsy, I didn't really get the main character, and I just lost interest enough to not carry on reading. Disappointing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mel Campbell

    I picked this up purely because I'm interested in medical history and the historical phenomenon of 'resurrection men', having read several non-fiction books set in London in this period and touching on this topic. What fascinates me is the uncanniness of the trade in the recently dead, situated as it is on the border between the respectability of medicine and the profanity of grave-robbing. I was also drawn to the proto-Dickensian quality of the early 19th-century London underworld, which feels I picked this up purely because I'm interested in medical history and the historical phenomenon of 'resurrection men', having read several non-fiction books set in London in this period and touching on this topic. What fascinates me is the uncanniness of the trade in the recently dead, situated as it is on the border between the respectability of medicine and the profanity of grave-robbing. I was also drawn to the proto-Dickensian quality of the early 19th-century London underworld, which feels so familiar as to be a cliché – it's the world Michel Faber pastiches in The Crimson Petal and the White and Sarah Waters pastiches in Fingersmith. There are the dissipated gentlemen, the vicious servants, the creepy doctors, the golden-hearted actresses and ladies of the night, and reigning over it all, like some shadowy Moriarty figure, the rather ambiguously coded Lucan (surely not coincidentally sharing a name with the notorious real-life Lord Lucan), who rules the body-snatching trade and keeps anatomists and underlings at his mercy. The very short chapters lend a nightmarish sense to the novel. Things are only seen in glimpses, like the illumination from a naked, subterranean light-bulb swinging from a chain, or a match flaring in the dark, then dropped from seared fingers. Gabriel, the protagonist, never seems fully cognisant or in control of the story, through which he's half-willingly propelled; unlike some readers here, who saw this as evidence of bad writing, I saw it as a deliberate choice to put the reader in Gabriel's increasingly helpless position. His fall into the most diabolical depths is precipitated by what seems at the time a moral act: his refusal to accept for dissection by his surgeon master a child's corpse that he knows will be recognised, and whose recognition will cause pain. This sends him on a path that fetches him up, rudely, in colonial New South Wales. This hairpin turn in the narrative was disorienting, and it took me a long time to figure out what was going on. It's super creepy and not especially subtle, but the image of rebirth – the notion of different lives into which one can slip, or life's cracks into which one can fall – carries through from the opening paragraph, which likens the dug-up corpses in sacks to foetuses in wombs, ready to emerge into their macabre second existence. But when applied to colonial Australia, this motif takes on new resonance, as the settlers are clearly willing to accept a large amount of social reinvention… to a point. My own ancestor changed his name from Frederick to Alfred when he arrived in Melbourne in 1848, aged 20, having been transported for seven years for stealing a pair of boots. He was the beneficiary of a short-lived and controversial 'exile' scheme in which basically, convicts were set free when they got to Australia, and the British government even set them up with lodgings, food and jobs, on the understanding that they didn't return. Obviously the non-convict settlers got a bit NIMBY about the idea of rubbing shoulders with scot-free convicts, and the scheme was abandoned in 1849. This isn't a perfect novel. It never feels quite moored in its historical setting, which may annoy fans of ultra-accurate historical fiction, and its ending feels a little murky, as if its themes are still not quite in focus. I've since read that James Bradley struggled for a long time to write this book, which has made me more sympathetic to and forgiving of its less clearly realised elements. I enjoyed reading it a lot, and I recommended it on The Rereaders, the podcast I co-host.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    I thought this was going to be a dark , gritty read but it was a rather dull read to be honest. There was no suspense in the world of stealing bodies in a Georgian London . I needed this to be more brooding , gory but it fell flat.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rosiemay

    Truly dreadful book, I've already wasted more than enough time on it to write a full review. One word : avoid.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Reading this book reminded me of a remark by Tom Servo in MST3K: "It's like they had two helpings of tension that they're trying to stretch out for seven people." London, 1826, and Gabriel Swift works as apprentice to renowned anatomist Edwin Poll. These are the days of the Resurrection Men, when the expanding medical schools face a shortage of bodies for dissection, giving rise to the expansion of the bodysnatching trade. The godfather of London's resurrectionists is the dark figure Lucan, who h Reading this book reminded me of a remark by Tom Servo in MST3K: "It's like they had two helpings of tension that they're trying to stretch out for seven people." London, 1826, and Gabriel Swift works as apprentice to renowned anatomist Edwin Poll. These are the days of the Resurrection Men, when the expanding medical schools face a shortage of bodies for dissection, giving rise to the expansion of the bodysnatching trade. The godfather of London's resurrectionists is the dark figure Lucan, who holds the surgeons and anatomists of London in his palm. When Mr. Poll crosses Lucan, it leads to a power struggle between the two, and within the ranks of the resurrectionists. And when Gabriel falls foul of Poll's sinister henchman, it leads to his dismissal from Poll's service, and to him throwing in his lot with Lucan. This book is praised on the cover as a "Gothic chiller"; however, I can't say I found it particularly Gothic, or particularly chilling or thrilling. It's certainly atmospheric: Bradley has a deft hand with descriptive prose, and there are plenty of suitably macabre and stomach-turning descriptions of dead bodies and surgical experiments, and bursts of graphic violence. Suffice it to say, this is not a book for the faint-hearted. It's unflinching, it's dark, it's disturbing, and there times where the atmosphere is suitably nightmarish, as if the reader has been drawn into one of Gabriel's opium stupors. Unfortunately, there's simply too much atmosphere, to the extent that the first half of the book feels like an overlong setting-up. Nothing really happens for over a hundred and fifty pages, and frankly, it quickly became tedious. This is not a ripping yarn; the plot is pretty simple, thin even. Instead, this book is more concerned with ruminating, of asking questions, and following one man's descent into iniquity, with the bodysnatching as a backdrop. Which is fine, but the way the book is told doesn't do it any favours. Pacing is a serious issue: the whole thing is told in the same contemplative, philosophising tone throughout, and it meanders along at the same unhurried pace as Gabriel navel-gazes his way through the underworld of Georgian London. A plot starts to appear when Gabriel joins the resurrectionists, around page 170-odd, but that lasts less than a hundred pages, before the reader is suddenly jerked into what feels like a 70-page epilogue. The book's main flaw, however, is that Bradley has apparently focused on atmosphere and pseudo-philosophy at the expense of characterisation. The central character, Gabriel, never really rises above the role of narrator to become a fully realised character. Throughout the book, he remains a cipher, an observer rather than active player. The rest of the cast, too, are so thinly drawn that they're one-dimensional at best. This is a book which wants us to tease out the motivations of its characters, but there is so little to them that they remain frustratingly elusive. Gabriel is forever observing that so much lies unspoken between the characters, but this feels more like an illusion to make the reader believe that there is more to these characters beneath the surface than there really is. And Gabriel suffers the most for this. We are given so little information about him that his motivation, his descent from respectable anatomist's apprentice to resurrectionist and cold-blooded killer, remains fairly obscure. It's not even a case of being sympathetic - he's not, but then, these are bodysnatchers and murderers, how sympathetic do you expect them to be? - but that there is nothing there for the reader to engage with. And with no connection to the main character, there's no incentive for the reader to hold him up as a mirror into their darkest selves, or whatever it is that books of this type want you to do. In short, this book is full of potential - exploring the darkest sides of human nature against such a gruesomely fascinating backdrop is a brilliant idea - but ultimately, it fails to live up to that potential.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alice Suttle

    Being interested in the macabre and morbid the blurb of this book hooked me instantly and left me no choice but to buy it and, hoping to gain a grisly insight into the seedy underworld of illegal corpse thievery and dissection, I set about reading it. The whole idea is a very interesting one but unfortunately that's about where my interest ended. The story follows a group of Resurrectionists in squallid 19th century London. However, as exciting as that sounds, the story doesn't really lead anywh Being interested in the macabre and morbid the blurb of this book hooked me instantly and left me no choice but to buy it and, hoping to gain a grisly insight into the seedy underworld of illegal corpse thievery and dissection, I set about reading it. The whole idea is a very interesting one but unfortunately that's about where my interest ended. The story follows a group of Resurrectionists in squallid 19th century London. However, as exciting as that sounds, the story doesn't really lead anywhere until three quarters of the way through. I found myself reading on, kept interested by the attractive way the author writes (one of the redeeming features of the book) and by my own morbid fascination at how he explains, in detail, what happens to the dead bodies once in the Resurrectionist's possession. To say "nothing really happens" in a book with a subject as heavy and potentially fascinating as this is really quite something but it's sadly true. I was willing for something - anything - to happen to make my time spent reading it worthwhile. It is told through the eyes of Gabriel, a young man with no defining or interesting characteristics that I can recall, and his daily going-on's which are often dull and meaningless. There are points in the book which lull you into the sense that something important and dramatic is about to occur but each time you are left disappointed. There are no real twists and, unfortunately, nothing to really get excited about. I must admit to being highly confused after reading the first "ending" and being catapulted straight into what seemed a completely different story which bore no relation to what I had just read (and thought I had finished reading). I suppose that was the author's idea of a "twist" but it wasn't a very convincing one. I found that I really didn't care what happened to these characters and forced myself to the end just so I could say I had finished it. Not fun. Overall: Sadly disappointing. It is written well but that alone is not enough to support the weak storyline. I won't be recommending this to anybody.

  25. 5 out of 5

    M.G. Mason

    Gabriel Swift arrives in London in the early 19th century to become the protege of one of the city's most celebrated anatomists. An innocent in a dark world, Swift soon becomes intoxicated with the anatomist's nemesis, the body snatcher Mister Lucan. When Swift loses his job, he finds himself sucked deeper and deeper into the dark world of the trade of dead bodies. By this time, it wasn't difficult to see it coming. Undeniably, this book is well written and it is harrowing to watch Swift go from Gabriel Swift arrives in London in the early 19th century to become the protege of one of the city's most celebrated anatomists. An innocent in a dark world, Swift soon becomes intoxicated with the anatomist's nemesis, the body snatcher Mister Lucan. When Swift loses his job, he finds himself sucked deeper and deeper into the dark world of the trade of dead bodies. By this time, it wasn't difficult to see it coming. Undeniably, this book is well written and it is harrowing to watch Swift go from wide-eyed innocent to killer. The prose flows very well and you feel your eyes skimming over the words as the plot moves along. Unfortunately, there is very little substance. Swift is the only character here who receives any sort of development (and that isn't great). Most of the others are flat affairs and because of this it is difficult to develop any sense of emotional attachment to them, the plot or the situation. This is odd, because clearly the writer has a flair for the written word and has carefully crafted the narrative. Why the novel was left undeveloped in a book that was crying out for it smacks of (perhaps) too much editorial input? I cannot see any other reason for it. The constant hopping around can also sometimes confuse the reader. At just over 300 pages, it is a little short (with those irritating short chapters that take up about a single side of a book but start halfway down one page and end halfway down the other - a trick used to make a book look longer than it actually is). It wouldn't have suffered for being an extra 100-150 pages long. I have always been highly critical of books that are over-written but I feel it is just as bad to cut short a story, especially one as well-written as this and especially when the content suffers for it.... and suffer it does. A missed opportunity with this one. See more book reviews at my blog

  26. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    I hate to put people down, especially when they have worked hard at something in the hope that their work will be admired, but this is sensationally flawed in a number of ways. The actual writing is patchy. In places very poetic and admirable, but in others just plain bad. The story is pretty poor in many regards, simply because it winds up nowhere particulary interesting. From the first few chapters I was intrigued to find out what the Resurrectionist's actually did. I wanted to read about the I hate to put people down, especially when they have worked hard at something in the hope that their work will be admired, but this is sensationally flawed in a number of ways. The actual writing is patchy. In places very poetic and admirable, but in others just plain bad. The story is pretty poor in many regards, simply because it winds up nowhere particulary interesting. From the first few chapters I was intrigued to find out what the Resurrectionist's actually did. I wanted to read about the things they actually did with the bodies they bought. All I got, however was a strange story that goes round and round without giving anything. It kept me intrigued to a degree (I wanted to know just how the author was going to end it!), but by the end of the second third (ie. Part One) I was bored. The ending of Part One was so abrupt that I felt cheated. On a positive note, Part Two was better. The writing was freer and possibly an indication of how the writer himself was bored with the first part and its ending, and felt as though it needed something to lift it from the low depths it had sunk to Was part one simply an author(like his character) declining, and part two an author (like his character) trying to make his way back up the ladder? Two out of five is deserved, but God, this story could have been so much better. A 21st century version, where we actually find out about what the bodies are dug up for, would be something I'd be very interested in!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    This book started promisingly. The language is superb, and I enjoyed the momentuous, snapshot-like style in which the relationship between characters and the events were described. However, the book remains very much in the moment. The main character does not reflect upon his behaviour or the possible routes he could take. He acts as if choice did not really exist. In so doing, he spirals further and further downwards, without providing good explanations for why he so readily gives up his good po This book started promisingly. The language is superb, and I enjoyed the momentuous, snapshot-like style in which the relationship between characters and the events were described. However, the book remains very much in the moment. The main character does not reflect upon his behaviour or the possible routes he could take. He acts as if choice did not really exist. In so doing, he spirals further and further downwards, without providing good explanations for why he so readily gives up his good position in society for that of an addict (and much more I will not name to avoid extreme spoilers). In that, the book reminded me a little of Maria McCann's "As Meat Loves Salt". However, while the latter book felt more uncomfortable as I had a deep dislike of the main character, this was at the same time a strength that "The Resurrectionist" lacks. A story that tells the tale of a person stumbling through their life requires an intriguing main character that you want to keep following even while shaking your head at their stupidity, and Gabriel could not live up to that role. After about half of the book I grew restless; from page 200 onwards I started skimming; on page 266 I gave up.

  28. 4 out of 5

    De Roedere

    As a rule, I do all right avoiding any book announcing it's a Best Seller. If I can also avoid books recommended by people whose core business includes recommending books, then I do that too. It's also good practice to be wary of award winners, depending on the award. And when a friend passes on a remaindered book, claiming to have loved it, and the spine's not marked, then those are books to get rid of too. But I love Gothic and I'm a sucker for an interesting cover. And Richard Flanagan (Now, As a rule, I do all right avoiding any book announcing it's a Best Seller. If I can also avoid books recommended by people whose core business includes recommending books, then I do that too. It's also good practice to be wary of award winners, depending on the award. And when a friend passes on a remaindered book, claiming to have loved it, and the spine's not marked, then those are books to get rid of too. But I love Gothic and I'm a sucker for an interesting cover. And Richard Flanagan (Now, he is one exception which tests the rule) mentioned 'Thrilling and Chilling' on the cover. So when my friend held out this book I thought, why not. Maybe this one will be different. In fact Resurrectionist proves my rule perfectly. Perhaps my greatest failure was in not being surprised or titillated by the subject. However, if the text were more energetic, the flow a little more idiosyncratic, the plot a little more exacting, characterisation a little more solid (less maundering), I suspect this could have been a pleasing read and still have managed a short listing in the odd lit award.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Janette Fleming

    The story of one man's descent into a nightmare of self-loathing in which his humanity and compassion is sucked out of him. The novel has a brilliant sense of time and place with excellent moody atmospheric writing The slippery, shifting nature of the storyline with its first person narrative and prose style can be difficult to get into initially but you are soon hooked in by the captivating writing. For example consider the opening sentences: In their sacks they ride as in their mother’s womb: k The story of one man's descent into a nightmare of self-loathing in which his humanity and compassion is sucked out of him. The novel has a brilliant sense of time and place with excellent moody atmospheric writing The slippery, shifting nature of the storyline with its first person narrative and prose style can be difficult to get into initially but you are soon hooked in by the captivating writing. For example consider the opening sentences: In their sacks they ride as in their mother’s womb: knee to chest, head pressed down, as if to die merely to return to the flesh from which we were born, and this a second conception. A rope behind the knees to hold them thus, another to bind their arms, then the mouth of the sack closed about them and bound again, the whole presenting a compact bundle, easily disguised, for to be seen abroad with such a cargo is to tempt the mob. I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book but I felt the plot became disjointed, fragmented and inconsistent and ultimately I felt unsatisfied with the unexpected coda.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum

    I was really excited to read this book for two reasons: it's written by an Australian and is about the trade in stolen bodies used by anatomists in the 1800s. I was really impressed that an Australian author could conjure the essence of London in the 1800s and was captivated by his writing early in the book. I'm fascinated by the topic of resurrectionists (grave robbers who steal recently buried bodies and sell them to anatomists who dissect them for science) and I thoroughly enjoyed the first ha I was really excited to read this book for two reasons: it's written by an Australian and is about the trade in stolen bodies used by anatomists in the 1800s. I was really impressed that an Australian author could conjure the essence of London in the 1800s and was captivated by his writing early in the book. I'm fascinated by the topic of resurrectionists (grave robbers who steal recently buried bodies and sell them to anatomists who dissect them for science) and I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this book. I was disappointed in the direction in which the author decided to take the main character, and was confused when he appeared in Australia with a different name many years later. This part of the plot seemed disjointed and I felt unsatisfied by the conclusion. I understand the author was exploring the themes of death, murder and rebirth, but I just didn't like where he chose to take the plot. James Bradley is an certainly an accomplished author and if he publishes another book I'll definitely want to check it out!

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