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Will Starling

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  235 ratings  ·  58 reviews
From the acclaimed author of Daniel O'Thunder comes a rollicking, bawdy, and haunting novel about love and redemption, death and resurrection.

The great metropolis of London swaggers with Regency abandon as nineteen-year-old Will Starling returns from the Napoleonic Wars having spent five years assisting a military surgeon. Charming, brash, and damaged, Will is helping his
Hardcover, 484 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Goose Lane Editions
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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  235 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Here’s a terrific read. To call it Charles Dickens meets “Frankenstein” may be partly accurate but hardly does justice to this dark-humoured romp. Engaging characters—foundlings, grave-robbers, resurrectionists, actors both great and dubious, brilliant surgeons and dunderheads—populate the streets, pubs, graveyards, hovels, and other outlandish locations of early nineteenth century London. A witty and well-crafted page turner with more than a few thought-provoking notions.
Apr 12, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copies, dnf
Look book I tried. You sounded amazing and I so wanted to like you but whenever I was reading you I got confused by your random capitalization of words like Science, Hospital, Subject or even One. I kept asking myself why these words were capitalized because they weren't part of proper names and it wasn't done just to draw attention to it once. Every time these words appeared they were capitalized. Because of Reasons apparently.
Then I got annoyed by your constant phonetically spelled dialects th
Peter Darbyshire
One of the best damned books I've read in years. This one has it all: the lyrical voice of a fallen angel, murder and resurrection, more historical detail than you can shake a surgeon's bloody razor at! It pulls the spirit of Frankenstein from the grave and then dances madly around in your imagination with it. If you don't like this, you must be dead inside. Which means the grave robbers will be visiting you shortly.
The Bookend Family
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Let me bite the bullet and say it; I don’t think that Frankenstein is a great book. However there is no doubting its importance or its cultural relevance. At the heart of the book lies an endlessly fascinating question; was Frankenstein’s error in creating life, or in failing to take responsibility for the life he created? A similar dilemma can be found in Will Starling, a terrific new novel by Ian Weir.

Some novels take some time to find their rhythm, but I knew that this book was good from the
Laine Cunningham
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was provided with an ARC by the publisher, and have been captivated ever since.

Will Starling is set in London in 1816, a city supercharged on the one hand by scientific advances yet hammered by the recently ended Napoleonic War. Will, an ex-soldier, moves in the seedy neighborhoods trying to make a living working for a surgeon and educating himself through his experiences and any book he can lay his hands on.

The story is one of a love that was lost because it was never truly given, the Dooms
Will Starling tells an interesting tale, it begins as Dick Whycher stands "straddle-legged, one-eyed lad in hand braced on the lip of the merd-urinous Fleet Ditch" as he sighs with an audible aaaahhhh his pal Toby Fegen advises against pissing in the gutter on account of the tiny eel like creature with teeth a sailor told him about, "which would swim up a stream of them as pissed in the water and straight through the solitary eye of the breeches-adder, with consequences too shocking for any man ...more
Barbara ♥~Lindt Ninja~♥ (Careerist Gangster™)
Will Starling is the titular narrator of this story of grave robbing, surgical experimentation and murder most foul set in London in the early 1800s. As the surgeon’s assistant to Dr. Comrie, which isn’t as lofty a title as it sounds, Starling makes it his business to be aware of the ongoing experimentation into the human body. After an unfortunate death, he becomes aware that one of the locals may be trying to resurrect the recently – and not so recently – deceased. Obsessed with finding the tr ...more
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
I received this book as a Goodreads’ Giveaway.

Will Starling is a surgeon’s assistant in London, England during the Regency era. As an orphan he found his way into the Napoleonic Wars assisting Dr. Cromie on sidelines in his amputations and other surgeries. Now that the war is over he is back in London, helping the surgeon and wandering the streets. He suspects that other local surgeons are ressurectionists (taking dead bodies and trying to bring them back to life) while others are working with D
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
In its way this really is a lovely book although there is nothing "lovely" about the subject matter. This is London in the 1800s with all the dirt showing in the tales here. There is an overarching story - of Will Starling, our Wery Umble Narrator and the trials of his life - however within that are some very good stories of individuals and times. Indeed the cast of this book contains some very rich characters indeed. Over all it concerns surgeons and Resurrection Men and seems well researched.

I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I have mixed feelings about this book. While I was reading, I was really interested to know what would happen next. But as soon as I would put it down, it was a struggle for me to pick it up again and keep reading. It was really slow at the beginning, and I was afraid I would have to mark it as "did not finish", which I always hate to do. Fortunately, it picked up a bit once I got into the story.

I did enjoy the autho
Elizabeth  Higginbotham
Will Starling by Ian Weir is not the type of novel I generally read, but I purchased on vacation and then took it on an airplane and another vacation. I was intrigued by the setting in early 19th century London, a city I sort of know from study abroad programs. The book was filled with surprises, even identifying the narrator—that does switch during the text. The old English was somewhat of a challenge. However, it was a dark and instructive tale.

Will was a founding and you learn that people of
Colleen Hymers
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I actually had the privilege of hearing Mr. Weir read from Will Starling last August, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book! If you love language, and appreciate a rich narrative, I highly recommend Will Starling. I soaked in every word, not to mention the city of London which was a character all on its own. No review I could give would do this book justice. I loved it. Plain and simple. A creepy story that kept me shuddering all throughout. And one that I finished (taking a page from ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If Oliver Twist, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and Frankenstein had a baby, it would be Ian Weir’s brilliant Victorian-esque novel, Will Starling. Recounting the title character’s tale of being a surgeon’s assistant in the gritty heart of early 1800s London, the novel bears a striking resemblance to the classic Victorian novel style in every way that a reader could possibly want. Filled with colourful, quirky characters; depictions of the Victorian underworld; and a very distinct tone similar to ...more
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Once a man is truly dead and carried pale and cold across the Styx – once Old Bones has put an arm about his shoulders and walked him through the Gate into Darkness – might Science yet summon him back?” Will Starling became my new Gothic guilty pleasure this month. I found the dark tale of Resurrection Men and mad doctors particularly tantalizing, while historically fascinating. If you are seeking a horrifically fun book filled to the brim with grave robbers and reanimated corpses, look no furt ...more
Grazyna Nawrocka
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and funny, the book is for me in some ways epitome of Englishness. The final chapters (after 17) not so good. It might serve as a good script for horror or suspension movie. Surprisingly I have not found anything scary in the story, but plenty of really hilarious concepts and conversations.
Sandy Carmichael
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
very good story about 1800's medical practices, murder, London life and human nature.
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"Nie ruszyłem się z mojego kąta na strychu przez trzy dni: tylko William Starling i jego wierny, czarny pies. Kiedy wyszedłem, odkryłem, że życie toczy się dalej, jak to życie. Więc się dołączyłem."
Elspeth G. Perkin
Pulls the reader straight into the dark heart of London in the early 19th century...

For those readers who may have morbid curiosity about certain topics and love a clever mix of genres, here is a treat just for you. Mr. Weir has created a tale that plays with the unknown and the macabre details straight from the dark side of human nature and history that pulls the unwary into a tale of combating and debatable topics and messages. Is Will Starling a story of miracles or simple coincidences? A tal
K. Lincoln
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars, with it not quite making it all the way to a 5 because it took me so long to wade through the beginning.

Wil Starling is the story of a foundling boy, the servant of a surgeon, investigating the weird goings-on of resurrection men, anatomists, and the strange reappearances of people supposedly dead in a dirty, gin-soused, earthy, stench-filled London of the 1800's.

It's not rollicking or really bawdy as much as unabashedly visceral and blatant about human frailties, bodies, and lusts.

Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually give out 5 stars, but this one deserves it. It is my kind of book. If someone were to ask me if I had a specific genre, this would be it...historical fiction with a touch of odd fantasy. I read this book because it was one of the recommended books for my #1 favorite book of all time (The Perfume: Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind). Unfortunately, and fortunately, this book is now my #1 favorite. It's taken years, but I finally found one that has bumped the leading favorite d ...more
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Very dense writing style
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Edit: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

There’s something about the idea of surgery that captures our imaginations. The idea of a person who holds a literal knife’s edge between life and death for a helpless mortal, who’s either tied down or unconscious on a slab? Both of these scenarios hold their own horrors, making this the stuff of great drama. Far from the rich, professional class they embody today, the history of surgeons is until the 20th century pretty barba
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Will Starling is set in the years after the Napoleonic War during a time when Doomsday men rob graves to help the surgeons and medical schools find cadavers with which to further their learning. Our lead character and narrator comes across clearly, with a strong character and powerful voice and the disadvantages of poverty, ugliness, and having been raised an orphan. He's both street smart and quite sharp, he's learned to live by his wits and is quite fond of large words and pretty turns of phra ...more
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first started the book, I did not like it. It takes a while to get past the filthy Dickens-like underbelly of this time in England. The reader is exposed to the most degrading and dehumanizing aspects of life for the masses. Even those with some education are not immune from involvement in the lowest of life. One review talks about the reader being immersed in the muck and the sense of dirt under the reader's fingernails. All that is true. However, once I got into the book, it was intrigu ...more
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
19th Century London comes alive in this creepy tale which focuses on the morally dodgy beginning of the surgical sciences. Clearly inspired by the likes of Frankenstein, this Very Dramatic Tale slowly unfolds into a terrifying scramble through darkened, wind-lashed alleys and back streets in search of The Truth. There are many twists and turns here, and an ending which is sure to surprise and satisfy readers. And just on a personal note: reading this has made me realize that I actually really en ...more
Alma  Ramos-McDermott
Will Starling, who served as a surgeon’s assistant during wartime for 5 years, and his employer have returned to London in 1816 shortly after the Napoleonic Wars. It is a time when London’s inhabitants are striving to rise above the misfortune of war while surgeons seek to uncover the mysteries of life and death. Their ever-growing need to learn about human anatomy has given rise to a black market of grave robberies, for dissection purposes, subjecting them to distrust and fear by the general pu ...more
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Perhaps Will Starling was born to hang. He was left at a foundling hospital as an infant. Once he was old enough to strike out on his own, Will press-gangs himself into the British Army to fight Napoleon. (There was some question about whether or not the infantryman was joking or not.) Just when you think Will has landed on his feet as a surgeon's assistant in London, love and hatred pull him into a dark mystery in Ian Weir's Will Starling...

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I receiv
Aug 01, 2015 rated it liked it
An interesting but gory story that describes the fascinating era of early surgery in 19th century London. A kind of Oliver Twist meets Doctor Jeckle with a Frankenstein thrown in for good measure. The plot twists and turns through the book. The length being perhaps a little longer than it needed to be. Lots of really excellent one line descriptors (similes and metaphors galore) that are fun by themselves. The author does a great job. However, the subject matter was a little droll, and not to eve ...more
Vanessa Ricci-Thode
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great story! Took longer to get going than I like, but I'm astoundingly impatient and that's not the author's fault. This was superbly researched and fully immersed me into 1816 London and all the horrors it held. While there is a touch of the supernatural and a healthy dose of madness, it is the actions of men and the horrifying capabilities humans possess that truly make elements of this story terrifying. The horror is broken up by wry, black humour that had me chuckling more than I had any ri ...more
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Ian Weir is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and novelist. His first novel, Daniel O’Thunder, was named one of the top historical novels of 2011 by Library Journal, which described it as “a debut novel both outrageously funny and bizarrely creepy.” It was a finalist for four awards: the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for First Book, the First Novel Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction ...more
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“There are moments in life when you blunder in front of a window, or a glass. And you stop to see the most risible creature peering back at you, in some hideous weskit that he has mistaken for the very pineapple of fashion, a kingsman slung round his neck like the banner of his pretentions, with an expression of adolescent constipation that is clearly intended as Deep Sagacity. You blink - you may even for an instant begin to laugh - until the realization dawns: this is a reflection, and it is mine. You've draped yourself in Rainbow togs and swaddled yourself in fervent convictions, but in that reflection there you stand: exposed in the knobbly white nakedness of your own absurdity.” 4 likes
“Once a man is truly dead and carried pale and cold across the Styx--once Old Bones has put an arm about his shoulders and walked him through the Gate into Darkness--might Science yet summon him back?” 2 likes
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