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The Bedlam Stacks
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The Bedlam Stacks > The Bedlam Stacks - Natasha Pulley

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message 1: by Ashley (last edited Jul 03, 2018 07:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ashley | 116 comments Mod
The history of quinine depends on your source, but for Europeans it is mystically tied to Peru, where a Spanish Countess cured her fever by chewing on the bark of a cinchona (quina-quina) tree. Quinine became the primary treatment for malaria, and as a result, journeys to Peru, and attempts at cultivating the very temperamental cinchona became a common adventure in the 19th century. It is here that Natasha Pulley focuses her story. Her hero, Merrick Tremayne, is an ex-East India Company trader, or perhaps smuggler, who due to a leg injury is stuck at his family home in Cornwall, England. His convalescence is interrupted though, as the East India trading company is desperate for anyone to journey into the Amazon in search of cinchona bark.

The mystery and adventure begins before Merrick can even leave his house, as statues start moving, his grandfather’s pine trees start exploding, and his brother accuses him of being mad. But Merrick agrees, and accompanied by an old friend Markham, he journeys to the edge of the Amazon, travelling through snow, forests, and over mountains, in search of a tiny missionary colony where a line of salt on the ground separates the town from the forest, and the welcome from the unwelcome. Of course, the chincona is on the other side of that line, and whether Merrick is welcome is questionable. During the journey, Merrick is met by friends, foes, and locals who alight him to the existence of lost time, living rocks, and cursed woods. The most remarkable is Raphael, a local priest who is assigned to be their guide. Raphael collects clocks, makes beautiful lights, and perhaps doesn’t age. Raphael might also hold the knowledge as to why Merrick’s stone statue has been moving.

Pulley wonderfully weaves a tale of magic realism, peppered with enough real characters and history to engage the reader while retelling a potentially unknown aspect of our past. This is a story of family and ancestry, for Merrick’s father seems to have once taken a similar journey. Pulley’s writing is beautiful, filled with lush descriptions of the environment, fascinating characters, and magical events. I was absolutely taken in by this story, and eagerly read Pulley’s first novel The Watchmaker of Filigree Street so I could spend more time with her writing and in her incredibly detailed worlds. I highly recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys magic realism, historical fiction, or any reader looking for something unique and special. You will finish feeling like you’ve shared on an epic journey with a close friend, and now have some secrets to share.

If you’ve read The Bedlam Stacks, let me know what you thought! Have suggestions for similar reads, or questions? Let me know!

Find it at OPL.


Diana (thoughtsonpapyrus) | 1 comments This is a poor novel indeed. I don't mind slow-pace but it was too dull sometimes. I loved all the folklore, but the hero - oh, our "hero". He is nothing but a murderer and also the one who left his friend to die. How readers can sympathise with him? He was perfectly alright with the idea of his Company coming to destroy and execute everyone one of the Indians in that place. And in the end, we must all feel that heart-warming sensation about his ancestry and his relationship with Raphael? The author is out of her mind.


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