This is a very dark book. Showing the not so glamorous side of London and the state that many lived in. Excellent description of the sites, sounds and smells of the area in which they lived. The madness that comes over those who seek enlightenment through so called science and experiments with the help of opium. Very Dickens in style.
This book is definitely not what I thought it would be. Unfortunately it has a really dull plot, the author feeds you crumbs of actually happenings while you struggle to get through the molasses of historical description.
Set in the 1700’s. The book starts out with a woman fleeing from a devastating fire. Then it jumps ahead 50 or so years and we meet Eliza who is a young woman all worked up over a sexy young man. The opening scene was something akin to an erotica novel but you won’t hear me complain. Eliza’s mother is the local midwife but fears being accused of witchcraft and wants to have her daughter safely wed to someone with lots of cash and property before it happens. Thus she encourages her daughter towards the wealthy and randy young fellow and performs a hand fasting ceremony. Pregnancy immediately follows and once the dupe realizes he isn’t legally wed he hightails it out of there and she’s left penniless, ruined and nauseous because of the “worm” in her belly. Ah, the best laid plans.
Eliza, worm still in the belly, then finds herself shipped off to London by her greedy mother to work with a mysterious apothecary. Doc Black believes strongly in the power of imprinting. But it’s not the Stephanie Meyer type of “you were meant for me” creepy imprinting. This imprinting is even more twisted. Doc Black believes that fears and events experienced by the mother can alter the unborn child in bizarre ways. For instance, if she fears a kitty and one crosses her path the kid may be born with whiskers and a purr. Or somesuch. It sounds nutty but supposedly there is documented proof that a certain sector of physicians actually believed this to be true way back when. In the author’s notes she even includes some freaky sketches of naked humans with animal heads, the result supposedly of material impressions and monstrous birth. Strangely enough they fascinate me and my eyes keep drifting to those last few pages when I should be reading the book . . .
The premise of this book appealed to me and some of the plot twists were horrible but the book was too meandering and to be blunt, boring, for me to continue and I gave up about halfway through. The ideas were good but the writing style didn't work for me and unfortunately I was unable to find any sympathy for the main character who I found off putting and unlikable.