They are such thin things, these lives of ours; cheap got, cheap lost, mere flickers against the ever dark, brief shadows on a wall. This life no more substantial than breath, a light which fills the chambers of our bodies, and is gone. James Bradley, The Resurrectionist
What is a life worth? Can we ever escape our past?
Gabriel Swift is apprenticed to a surgeon at a time when scientists rubbed shoulders with criminals, obliged to buy corpses from grave robbers in order to study anatomy. Gabriel sinks into the underworld of London in 1826, where the poor are numerous and vanish without a trace.
This is a grim, tense novel that mixes stomach-turning gothic thrills and dirty realism with a surprising lyricism and melancholy beauty. I admire James Bradley’s achievement.