Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Released: 13th of July 2017
Deep in uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a forest. The shrine statues move, and anyone who crosses the border dies. But somewhere inside are cinchona trees, whose bark yields quinine: the only known treatment for malaria.
On the other side of the Pacific, it is 1859 and India is ravaged by the disease. The hunt for a reliable source of quinine is critical and in its desperation, the India Office searches out its last qualified expeditionary. Struggling with a terrible injury from his last mission and the strange occurrences at his family's ruined estate, Merrick Tremayne finds himself under orders to bring back cinchona cuttings at any cost and dispatched, against his own better judgement, to Bedlam.
There he meets Raphael, a priest around whom the villagers spin unsettlingly familiar stories of impossible disappearances and living stone. Gradually, he realises that Raphael is the key to a legacy left by two generations of Tremayne explorers before him, one which will prove more dangerous and valuable than the India Office could ever have imagined.
What I Have to Say
Let's be honest here, this was never going to be quite as good as The Watchmaker of Filigree street. Nothing could have followed that and been quite as good. This did eventually get the same feel to it that Filigree Street had, though it was slower to be as good. It was probably mostly because my expectations for it was too high, but I think it also took longer for the magic to really appear in the book. It was took normal, even when they got to Bedlam and started to see the pollen and the trees, it still didn't feel completely magical until lately on.
By the end of it, I was in love with it though. Not as much as Filigree Street but I still got a little bit of that same feeling. I think the reappearance of Keita helped. He's just such a fantastic character and I don't think I'd ever get bored of reading about him.
This book had some really interesting themes. The idea of language that came up in it was just so fascinating. The themes of translation and mistranslation and how much culture and belief is hard to translate when talking to foreigners. This book definitely stressed the point of how to really know and understand anything about a culture you have to fully embrace it.
I love this world of hidden magic so much. I can't wait for Natasha Pulley's next book.
My thanks go to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review.