Review of ‘The Bodysnatcher’s Apprentice’ by David Orme

Hello everyone! Here’s another review, this time of prose rather than poetry – it an eBook novel by David Orme: The Bodysnatcher’s Apprentice.

Set in the dingy streets of an 19th century London, The Bodysnatcher’s Apprentice tells a tale full of bodies, burials, butchers, surgeons, sickness, and death – all while maintaining a comic and hugely entertaining vein. It’s a truly compelling read. The plotting is exceptional, and the threads weave together in ingeniously humorous and revelatory ways – there are no needless pieces of information in this story, it all comes together like a kaleidoscope until (and only by the very, very end) you have a clear picture.

The language is also woven with creatively satirical plays on words, puns, and double entendres to create not only humour, but moments where you physically grimace at what’s being intimated. But it’s not all laughs and toilet humour (literal toilet humour): there are moments of horror and suspense which stick in the mind just like a famous film-sequence. Without giving anything away, the research into 19th century surgeries that has gone into this book creates a wincingly vivid picture that leaves one physically tense – though there’s no gratuitousness.

It has something of the Terry Pratchett vein, although The Bodysnatcher’s Apprentice is not fantastical in any sense, but startlingly realistic. The street names, geography, details on living conditions, social attitudes and merchant-practice brings 19th centuryLondon to life for a reader. However, despite the realistic vision ofLondon, David has not written a historical account: the story is pacy, thrilling and permeated by a definite air of mystery that one feels determined to unravel. In addition, David’s mastery of phonetic language makes the dialect-speech enjoyable, rather than a chore to decipher. (We all remember Bram Stoker’s attempts at cockney and shudder with remembrance).

So if you want to be transported on a dingy boat back to the wallowing mire ofLondon’s past, on a tale of adventure (which I can’t really reveal anything about or it will spoil the numerous surprises and turns in store), then this book is for you!

Thanks for reading.

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