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The Bedlam Stacks

The Bedlam Stacks

Blurb

Merrick Treymayne is feeling stifled and unwanted since moving back to his family home in Cornwall with his curmudgeonly brother Charles. As a former smuggler for the East India Company Merrick sustained an injury to his leg which left him needing a cane.

So, when his old friend Clem arrives to convince him to come on an expedition to Peru. Merrick takes some convincing. Clem and the East India Company want Merrick to help them take cuttings from the Cinchona tree in order to get quinine, a substance needed in the cure for malaria. The locals want to maintain the monopoly on their trees and they aren’t happy with foreigners trying to take their product away.

Those who have arrived in Peru on previous expeditions to gather this precious resource haven’t made it out of Peru alive. Knowing this, Merrick knows it is madness for him to try where others have failed, especially with his injured leg. All that awaits him in Cornwall is a fractious relationship with his brother who thinks Merrick is slowly descending into madness.

On arriving in Bedlam Merrick and Clem are surprised by the level of superstition among the locals. The newcomers are warned not to cross the salt lined boundary into the forest but with the time sensitivity of their mission will they listen.

The longer they stay in the village the more fascinated Merrick becomes with the strange stone statues that line the village and almost seem to be alive. How do they work? And why does the young priest Raphael seem to know Merrick’s grandfather even though he visited Peru decades earlier.


Our Review

Many people are familiar with Natasha Pulley’s writing after reading The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, I am not one of those people. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street somehow passed me by and after reading The Bedlam Stacks I am very disappointed I didn’t get around to reading The Watchmaker of Filigree Street first.

The Bedlam Stacks was an unexpectedly magical read and one I am looking forward to returning to in the future.

Merrick Treymayne is feeling stifled and unwanted since moving back to his family home in Cornwall with his curmudgeonly brother Charles. As a former smuggler for the East India Company Merrick sustained an injury to his leg which left him needing a cane.

So, when his old friend Clem arrives to convince him to come on an expedition to Peru. Merrick takes some convincing. Clem and the East India Company want Merrick to help them take cuttings from the Cinchona tree in order to get quinine, a substance needed in the cure for malaria. The locals want to maintain the monopoly on their trees and they aren’t happy with foreigners trying to take their product away.

Those who have arrived in Peru on previous expeditions to gather this precious resource haven’t made it out of Peru alive. Knowing this, Merrick knows it is madness for him to try where others have failed, especially with his injured leg. All that awaits him in Cornwall is a fractious relationship with his brother who thinks Merrick is slowly descending into madness.

On arriving in Bedlam Merrick and Clem are surprised by the level of superstition among the locals. The newcomers are warned not to cross the salt lined boundary into the forest but with the time sensitivity of their mission will they listen.

The longer they stay in the village the more fascinated Merrick becomes with the strange stone statues that line the village and almost seem to be alive. How do they work? And why does the young priest Raphael seem to know Merrick’s grandfather even though he visited Peru decades earlier.

Natasha Pulley has a beautiful and wonderfully descriptive writing style. It made me feel like I was with Merrick every step of his journey and I didn’t want the journey to end.

The pace of this novel is quite slow but that is one of the things that makes it great, it helps the reader to immerse themselves in the world Natasha Pulley created.

The Bedlam Stacks begins in Cornwall the night after a major storm has brought a tree branch crashing through the roof of the dilapidated house he shares with his brother. Merrick decides to take a walk with his St Bernard Gulliver to inspect for any more damage.

The tree that came crashing through the roof has a special sentimental value to Merrick as his father used to read to him from its trees. Charles hated their father though and can’t wait to get rid of the tree and this is just one of the many things that he and Charles disagree on.

“He stared at me and I stared back, and I think we both saw then what should have been obvious for years: that we belonged to different classes. He was a gentleman, and I never had been. His eyes filled with tears and then I looked away at the hopping crows so I could pretend not to have noticed. ‘You have no pride have you,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing left for you to be proud.’

It was fortuitous that Clem arrived when he did to convince Merrick to go to Peru. Merrick had been convinced that a statue his dad had brought back from Peru was being moved around the garden and that someone kept breaking into the greenhouse he liked to spend his time in. Charles was convinced this obsession was the onset of madness.

One of my favourite things about the book is the way Merrick is following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. By choosing to go to Bedlam, Merrick and Clem visit the place where Merrick’s father was born and where he made many friends throughout his lifetime. I like the way his father’s stories of that time influenced his childhood.

Merrick points out that they would have to ask where to find the village because neither his father nor his grandfather ever chose to record it on a map.

“Dad said there are things that shouldn’t go on maps.”

I liked that Merrick isn’t a traditional hero. He has a bit of a dark side, the fact that he was a smuggler for one. Also, when his boss tells him that if they can’t get the cuttings he will need to create a political reason for the government to send the troops in by getting Clem killed, Merrick doesn’t say he won’t do it.

For me, the best bits of the book were the bits involving the legends around the forest and the statues. I thought it was a unique idea and made for a fantastic book.

The Bedlam Stacks was an intriguing read and was unputdownable from start to finish.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 5/5

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