Top critical review
105 people found this helpful
on 16 July 2008
Although getting off to a reasonable start this book soon becomes more than a little frustrating. Having read a number of other reviews on this site I am left a little mystified and anyone expecting a cross between Lovecraft and Dickens will be mightily disappointed.
The story, as has been written elsewhere, takes us through the protagonists decline from anatomists assistant to drug addicted bodysnatcher but forgets to create a deep enough back story for the reader to actually care. All the characters in the book are made largely uninteresting owing to a lack of depth and it is a little bit of a cheat to say that just because the books subject is a little macabre that this is a spine tingling page turner. Buyer beware because it is not. It's not that the novel is badly written, it's actually the opposite, but no time is given to plot or character development and there is no feeling that the main characters fall from grace is at any point anything other than a trite and rather linear progression. One minute Gabriel Swift is a gentleman entering London society, an anatomists apprentice at the dawn of the age of discovery; the next he's a murdering opium addict. Lucan, Mr Poll, Charles, etc etc. There are charcters here somewhere. "If only" would sum up this novel nicely.
It is hard not to suspect that either it has been over-edited or the author was only allowed to write a novel of a certain length for some reason. Either way both story and characters are thin and sickly creatures and it is a shame that a writer who clearly has some talent ultimately has produced a work that leaves this reader wishing for more.
The second part of the story, mentioned in a few reviews is also a little odd and when reading the book, the jump from one story to another is at first confusing. It seems almost as if part 2 were written because someone somewhere asked for a happier ending.