Book Review

Review: The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

Title: The Bedlam Stacks

Series: /

Author: Natasha Pulley

Edition: Kindle edition

Pages: 352 pages

Language: Read in English

Genre: fiction, fantasy, adventure


In 1859, ex-East India Company smuggler Merrick Tremayne is trapped at home in Cornwall after sustaining an injury that almost cost him his leg and something is wrong; a statue moves, his grandfather’s pines explode, and his brother accuses him of madness.

When the India Office recruits Merrick for an expedition to fetch quinine—essential for the treatment of malaria—from deep within Peru, he knows it’s a terrible idea. Nearly every able-bodied expeditionary who’s made the attempt has died, and he can barely walk. But Merrick is desperate to escape everything at home, so he sets off, against his better judgment, for a tiny mission colony on the edge of the Amazon where a salt line on the ground separates town from forest. Anyone who crosses is killed by something that watches from the trees, but somewhere beyond the salt are the quinine woods, and the way around is blocked.

Surrounded by local stories of lost time, cursed woods, and living rock, Merrick must separate truth from fairytale and find out what befell the last expeditions; why the villagers are forbidden to go into the forest; and what is happening to Raphael, the young priest who seems to have known Merrick’s grandfather, who visited Peru many decades before. The Bedlam Stacks is the story of a profound friendship that grows in a place that seems just this side of magical.

This second book by Natasha Pulley stars Merrick Tremayne, an ex-smuggler for the East Indian Trading company. Recovering from a leg injury, he gets the question to go to Peru to steal cuttings from cinchona trees. These trees are the source of an anti-malaria medication.

When he arrives in Peru, he gets to know Raphael, a priest in Bedlam who is willing to guide him. Arriving in Bedlam, he encounters a lot of strange things: moving statues, a salt border that cannot be crossed, exploding trees, and much more.

This book wasn’t easy to get into. I had no idea which direction it was going and although that wasn’t easy in the beginning, it also created a mystery. About half way into the book, I had a hard time putting it down.

Although Natasha Pulley tried to write everything as vivid as possible, it was difficult for me to imagine certain things. The characters were really very well described and I loved that flashbacks were used at the perfect time to describe the characters and interactions between characters even better.


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