Frankenstein meets The Shadow of the Wind in a Gothic thriller set in the diabolical city of fin-de-siècle Barcelona.
Daniel Amat has left Spain and all that happened there behind him. Having just achieved a brilliant role in ancient languages at Oxford University and an even more advantageous engagement, the arrival of a letter - a demand - stamped 'Barcelona' comes like a cold hand from behind. He arrives back in that old labyrinthine and near-mythic city a few days before the great 1888 World's Fair, amid dread whispers of murders - the injuries reminiscent of an ancient curse and bearing signs of the genius 16th century anatomist Vesalius.
Daniel is soon pulled into the depths of the crime and eventually into the tunnels below Barcelona, where his own dark past and the future of science are joined in a terrible venture - to bring the secret of Vesalius to life. Gothic and gripping, this historical thriller makes of Barcelona a diabolical character - emerging out of the dark into a new electrical age, aflame with spirit, superstition and science.
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What members say
A 'classic' tale, by which I mean overly familiar
Read some fantastic reviews of this but was surprised at its well worn plot that just didn't feel engaging enough to keep me in the story. The publishing blurb explains that this is a retelling of frankenstein story (although with some phantom mixed in for good measure), but it takes 11 hours before we 'discover' the shocking secret that we'd been told about before we started, and our predicted double twist never happens, the ending merely confirms the first words of the publishing summary. The writing is intelligent but the 19 th century language seems off at times with contemporary references seemingly thrown in (translation maybe responsible), and the mix of mild Spanish accents and bizarre East end London (for the police) is jarring. I got to the end and wondered what all the fuss was about, nothing memorable and personally not particularly pleasurable, but not without some merit for an interesting setting. This would suit anyone looking for a retelling of frankenstein who wanted all the 'finding of the body parts' to fill the novel but isn't curious about the 'monster' itself (it really doesn't feature) and wasn't looking to have any contemporary spin put on the storytelling (prostitutes are big hearted, police are corrupt, business men are in it for a quick return, doctors are behind the times, and no one believes our hero).
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