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Sawbones Paperback – 3 Oct 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Walker (3 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140634057X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1406340570
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Catherine was brought up in North London. Her parents are from Wales and Jamaica. Catherine studied film at St. Martin's School of Art where her final piece was a remake of Rapunzel. Catherine has worked as a horse wrangler, as writer-in-residence at Holloway Prison and was Reader-in-Residence at the Royal Festival Hall. She also writes for Film and TV.
Catherine now lives in London Fields and has two children.

Product Description

Book Description

"Gentlemen!" William McAdam addressed the room, a knife in each hand. "Your watches, please! I guarantee you the fastest amputation ever performed anywhere in the world."

About the Author

Catherine Johnson is an award-winning writer of Welsh/African Caribbean descent, now living in Hastings in East Sussex. Her novels for children include Stella, The Dying Game, Arctic Hero, selected for Booked Up 2009 and A Nest of Vipers, shortlisted for the UKLA Award 2009. She lectures in creative writing at London Metropolitan University and is a Trustee of The Reading Agency. She works regularly with children and teachers in primary schools and libraries across the UK.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Big Book Little Book on 22 Jan 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Pruedence for [...]
Copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review

What initially caught my attention with Sawbones was the somewhat dark and a little macabre cover, and subsequently the very short and brief synopsis that hinted to one mystery and perhaps an even bigger one lying beneath.

Having read The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson and more recently Unrest by Michelle Harrison, two books that both took me out of my comfort zone I decided to follow my gut, take a leap of faith and go for it. Turns out I should do that more often!

Catherine Johnson's story unfolds from an uncommon source in the rough and dirty London of 1792. Our narrator is non-other than a sixteen-year-old mulatto boy by the name of Ezra, a surgeon apprentice to one of the most prestigious and experienced surgeons of London. Under William McAdams wing he has grown up free, a man of truth and science, where rationality and reason reign sovereign, and where the mysteries of life lie in death and the veil that hides them will eventually be cut down by the scalpel of a surgeon postmortem.

Science is bursting with the desire to grow, expand and pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable faster than it is accepted. Surgeons need to practice and need to learn, and they need corpses to both. Unfortunately not everyone willingly gives their body to science. It is in this environment that the resurrectionists are born, also known as grave robbers. Thieves paid well by thirsty scientific minds to bring to the anatomizing table a dead body that perhaps was laid to rest with the intention of staying that way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kira Phillips on 2 Jan 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sawbones is a spectacular piece of historical fiction. It focuses on Georgian surgical development and and the associated body-snatching. The story moves from London to the Ottoman empire and is a gripping, thrilling, informative and thoroughly enjoyable read. I am an avid reader and I couldn't recommend it more highly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H.P. on 3 Nov 2013
Format: Paperback
Sawbones is set in the 18th century. Life was hard and people would do whatever they could to make ends meet. Take the magician, Mr Charles Finch, for example. We are introduced to him in Turkey, where, in order to provide for his daughter, he has agreed to have something very nasty indeed done to his person. 'Mr Charles Finch closed his eyes and winced as the knife cut into his skin...' reads the opening sentence.

Meanwhile in London, we are in the world of medical science. Surgeon William McAdam and his apprentice, Ezra, perform amputations in full view of medical students who watch from galleries above. Unlike some of his fellow surgeons, McAdam is respected for the speed and efficiency of his amputations, resulting in the patient being given a higher chance of survival. In order to do his real research, however, McAdam relies on stolen cadavers,delivered to his anatomy room in great secrecy by furtive 'resurrection men.'
It is to this room a body is delivered one night. Ezra examines it. The first unusual thing is that the body is that of a Negro; the second that he has been shot and the third - that the dead man had no tongue. 'Here was a puzzle, Ezra thought'...

Soon afterwards Ezra meets Loveday Finch, the magician's daughter, and the adventure unfolds. Loveday Finch and Ezra McAdam make a fine pair. Loveday is brave, impetuous and a dab hand with a sword and I liked how Johnson built her part so that she has equal weighting as a main character with Ezra. Nobody can say this is a 'girls' book' or a 'boys' book' as seems to be the depressing trend these days.
Sawbones is a fast-paced, exciting read for all over 11s. There is a lot to be gleaned about anatomy and death in the period but the reader is never bludgeoned with it. The characters keep out interest all the way through and I enjoyed Sawbones even more than Catherine Johnson's earlier historical novel, A Nest of Vipers, and that's saying something.
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Format: Paperback
I was given this by a lovely Walker Books person sometime ago and had it sat on the shelf for yonks, but with the up-coming YALC in July, I wanted to read as many of the featured authors as I can.

Set in London in the late 1700s, Sawbones follows the story of Ezra, a trainee surgeon, as his life of dead bodies and medical examination turns into a murder mystery with the meeting of Loveday Finch, a spritely magician's daughter on a mission. They cross all around London as they search for answers to both their questions before their time is up and the power to do anything is taken out of their hands.

I really enjoyed this book and the whole whodunit type of murder mystery plot line. It was a wonderful setting in terms of location and era and Catherine Johnson really captures the more gruesome elements of body dissection and life in the 18th century. I loved the fiery nature of Loveday and her enthusiastic nature that was sort of infectious as I read. You really want her to turn up trumps and things to work out in the end but you wonder if it ever will. Ezra is a noble character and has a wonderful nature about him that perfectly counter-balanced Loveday's jump-in-at-the-deep-end attitude.

A great read for fans of historic style novels and a real mystery adventure that I truly enjoyed. I'd be interested to read more from Catherine Johnson and see if her writing changes or develops over her career. A visually-pleasing story that was gothic in manner but had some lovely positive messages to it. Not for readers with a weak stomach as some descriptions of Ezra's training may make you a bit green; I, however, thought they were brilliantly gore-filled scenes.

Well worth picking up a copy if you can.
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