The Bedlam Stacks
In 1859, ex-East India Company smuggler Merrick Tremayne is trapped at home in Cornwall after sustaining an injury that almost cost him his leg and something is wrong; a statue moves, his grandfather’s pines explode, and his brother accuses him of madness.When the India Office recruits Merrick for an expedition to fetch quinine—essential for the treatment of malaria—from deep within Peru, he knows it’s a terrible idea. Nearly every able-bodied expeditionary who’s made the attempt has died, and he can barely walk. But Merrick is desperate to escape everything at home, so he sets off, against his better judgment, for a tiny mission colony on the edge of the Amazon where a salt line on the ground separates town from forest. Anyone who crosses is killed by something that watches from the trees, but somewhere beyond the salt are the quinine woods, and the way around is blocked.Surrounded by local stories of lost time, cursed woods, and living rock, Merrick must separate truth from fairytale and find out what befell the last expeditions; why the villagers are forbidden to go into the forest; and what is happening to Raphael, the young priest who seems to have known Merrick’s grandfather, who visited Peru many decades before. The Bedlam Stacks is the story of a profound friendship that grows in a place that seems just this side of magical.

The Bedlam Stacks Details

TitleThe Bedlam Stacks
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 1st, 2017
PublisherBloomsbury USA
ISBN1620409674
ISBN-139781620409671
Number of pages336 pages
Rating
GenreFantasy, Historical, Fiction, Magical Realism, Glbt, Adventure, Adult, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy

The Bedlam Stacks Review

  • Paromjit
    June 30, 2017
    This is a multi-genre crossing novel that caught me by surprise and I felt as if I had to acclimatise myself to this strange beast of a book. I began by reading fast but kept on having to go back to make sure I had understood what was happening until I accepted this was going to be a slowly savoured read. It is beautifully written historical fiction, with elements of the supernatural and the probing of mysteries and expert world building underpinned with whimsy. Merrick Tremayne has been cripple This is a multi-genre crossing novel that caught me by surprise and I felt as if I had to acclimatise myself to this strange beast of a book. I began by reading fast but kept on having to go back to make sure I had understood what was happening until I accepted this was going to be a slowly savoured read. It is beautifully written historical fiction, with elements of the supernatural and the probing of mysteries and expert world building underpinned with whimsy. Merrick Tremayne has been crippled whilst operating as a smuggler for the East India Company. He is living with his brother, Charles, on the crumbling Heligan Estate in Cornwall where crows bartar their ill gotten gains, statues move and trees explode, setting off a multitude of fires. Charles threatens Merrick with the asylum or to take up the position of a parson. The India Office wish Merrick to undertake a expedition to Peru to acquire cinchona cuttings. There has been a terrible outbreak of malaria in India for which quinine is required. This offer is absurd, Merrick is physically not capable, Peru is a dangerous place with men from recent expeditions murdered and other lurking problems. Merrick's precarious position and the persuasive qualities of his friends Clem and Minna push him to agree to go. He has family connections to Peru and his experience as a gardener makes him ideal. He would rather die in Peru than live in misery at home.This is a story of friendship, love, magic, different cultures, intrigue, tradition and adventure. The journey by ship involves Merrick teaching the art of taking cuttings, the preponderance of sea sickness and a decision by the pregnant Minna to not join the quest. Martel, who seems to have an inexplicable hold on Raphael, insists that Merrick and Clem are guided by Raphael. There is more to Raphael than they expected. He is from New Bethlehem, or Bedlam, and is a priest. Watching the evolving relationship between Raphael and Merrick is a joy to observe. Bedlam is infused with myth, folklore and superstition, the villagers cannot entering the Forbidden Forest or cross the salt line. The Martayuk are sacred stone statues revered by the community, shrouded in mysticism and wonder. However, Raphael can cross the salt line as a priest. With strange happenings, the question arises as to how it is possible that Raphael knows Merrick's grandfather when he is patently too young? Is it possible to lose time? Will Merrick be able to return with the cuttings and Raphael?This is a novel that grows on you the more you read of it. It has such beautiful prose with wonderful descriptions such as of Peru and coffee. The imagery is vivid and vibrant, ensnaring the reader with ease. However, it may take a little while to get hooked on the story, so perseverance is essential. The author has clearly done her research on this period and Peru. It is the characters that cemented my love for this kooky book and the relationship between Merrick and Raphael is outlined with subtlety, flair and expertise. The novel also touches on important issues of the day such as race, treatment of native communities, imperialism, politics and religion. A disarming read, which as I reflect upon it, is quite likely to induce me to up my rating to 5 stars. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.
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  • emma
    June 30, 2017
    my first ever buddy read with a (very woke) name twin of minethanks to Bloomsbury for the ARC!
  • Nicole Jarvis
    October 27, 2016
    Everyone who knows me knows how much I loved Watchmaker, and it's clear that Natasha Pulley is only going to keep growing as a writer! Fans of Watchmaker will enjoy certain cameos, but the new characters are all fantastic, and this mystical, complex Peruvian landscape is irresistible! Disclaimer: I work for the publisher. (Double disclaimer: I took this job because of how much I loved Watchmaker.)
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  • Lucy Banks
    June 29, 2017
    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.Beautiful imagery, highly creative, but no real drive to it.The cover alone made me desperate to get hold of this book, not to mention the description. Exploding trees? Strange events in Peru? Sign me up now, please! The premise is an excellent one. A mission to travel to Peru's dark underbelly, to seize quinine (necessary for the treatment of malaria) - beset by threat, magical events, and plenty of mystery - who is I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.Beautiful imagery, highly creative, but no real drive to it.The cover alone made me desperate to get hold of this book, not to mention the description. Exploding trees? Strange events in Peru? Sign me up now, please! The premise is an excellent one. A mission to travel to Peru's dark underbelly, to seize quinine (necessary for the treatment of malaria) - beset by threat, magical events, and plenty of mystery - who is this Raphael, and how on earth can he possibly know Merrick's grandfather, when he's not nearly old enough? However, unfortunately, I found it a little difficult to get into this book. From the start, I was puzzled by Merrick. His voice and mannerisms were distinctly 'old-mannish', yet other snippets of information suggested he was younger. I was also puzzled by where the book was going - there never quite seemed to be enough drive to make me want to know what happened next. I persevered, and in places, I was quite entranced (the pollen scenes were just gorgeous), but there were several places where I wasn't convinced I wanted to continue. I sense this might be just me though - certainly loads of other people loved this book to bits. The magical realism element is very well done - I personally thought the exploding tree added a lovely level of intrigue to the start, not to mention a hint of danger. I'd definitely give some of her other books a go - I think her style of writing is lovely, very detailed and rich. Perhaps this just wasn't the right book choice for me.
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  • Snooty1
    January 16, 2017
    *** I received this ARC from Netgalley for my honest review***The term slow burn was created for this novel.At first, I was thinking that the story was rather slow...wondering if I would get into it. Then next thing I know, I can't get this book out of my head. Again...its not a thriller in any way and yet you get to care so much about the characters as well as the culture of this book that you find yourself yearning to find out what happens next. There were times I wasn't even sure what I WANTE *** I received this ARC from Netgalley for my honest review***The term slow burn was created for this novel.At first, I was thinking that the story was rather slow...wondering if I would get into it. Then next thing I know, I can't get this book out of my head. Again...its not a thriller in any way and yet you get to care so much about the characters as well as the culture of this book that you find yourself yearning to find out what happens next. There were times I wasn't even sure what I WANTED to happen. I had a feeling I knew what the twist was going to be...and it didn't bother me in the least. It actually made the story that much more beautiful. This book is for the lover of character and world building. The writing is excellent and rhythmic, like following a lazy river with a cold drink in your hand.
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  • Emma
    June 30, 2017
    oooooops I was enjoying this but my copy expired, I'll have to pick up a new copy soon!-------------------------------buddy read with my name twin <3hoping we both enjoy this!
  • Tori
    February 12, 2017
    If you read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street then you may already know this, but first time readers need to understand going into this book: it requires some patience. I wouldn't describe it as slow because changing the pace would be changing the feeling of the book itself, I would much rather describe it as peaceful and lovingly written. I can hardly wrap my head around the beautiful world Pulley built in The Bedlam Stacks, it's so unlike anything I've ever read before. I was filled with wonde If you read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street then you may already know this, but first time readers need to understand going into this book: it requires some patience. I wouldn't describe it as slow because changing the pace would be changing the feeling of the book itself, I would much rather describe it as peaceful and lovingly written. I can hardly wrap my head around the beautiful world Pulley built in The Bedlam Stacks, it's so unlike anything I've ever read before. I was filled with wonder at every little piece of magic that fell into place. And then, of course, the reason I was so excited for this book in the first place: the slow burn love story. Beneath the intriguing plot and magical world-building is the absolute sweetest story of two people coming to love each other in the process of learning about each other. They don't realize it as it's happening, until they just let themselves lean into it, and each other, when they do. You hardly notice it when it's happening, until you look back and see their beautiful dance for what it was. The intimacy Pulley achieved through wordless conversations and the relief in being known is so beautiful. I wish a love story like this one wasn't so rare. Overall: same as I said when I finished Watchmaker, ONE MILLION STARS. I highly recommend to anyone, but go into The Bedlam Stacks with willingness to go at its pace to really get the utmost out of it.
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  • Melbourne on my Mind
    July 29, 2017
    Review to follow.
  • Judy Lesley
    July 1, 2017
    I received a copy of this novel through the Amazon Vine Voices program and Bloomsbury. Thank you.This novel was so long in getting started that author Natasha Pulley almost lost me. The first one hundred pages is essentially the information available in the book product description. I finally had to decide to keep reading until about halfway through just to be sure I wanted to complete the entire novel. That's a very slow start in my opinion. For me the pace never did pick up but I did become ac I received a copy of this novel through the Amazon Vine Voices program and Bloomsbury. Thank you.This novel was so long in getting started that author Natasha Pulley almost lost me. The first one hundred pages is essentially the information available in the book product description. I finally had to decide to keep reading until about halfway through just to be sure I wanted to complete the entire novel. That's a very slow start in my opinion. For me the pace never did pick up but I did become accustomed to the almost dreamy feeling of the narrative. I would probably describe the writing as quiet or delicate. I was surprised at how often I had to go back and read a passage again to be definitely sure I had caught the meaning of what had happened. So if you decide to read this novel, my advice would be to expect a pacing where nothing seems to be happening until you realize that quite a lot has actually happened. This historical fantasy has the East India Company turned into a civil service branch of the British government. There are riots in India because of the spread of malaria and a shortage of quinine. The government of Peru has a monopoly on the remaining cinchona trees from which quinine is made so a secret mission is undertaken so Merrick Tremayne will travel to Peru to find the cinchona trees and take cuttings while the expedition is presented as a map making trip with his friend Clem Markham and his wife Minna. Many years before another member of the Tremayne family had made his way to this particular part of Peru and founded a city which he called New Bethlehem. This is the area Clem is supposed to be mapping, but not everyone wants strangers traveling into those mountains for their own selfish reasons. What Merrick finds is much more than he had ever bargained for.This novel takes place over quite a long span of time, 1859-1881. The fantasy world is filled with unusual elements which make perfect sense when seen within the parameters of the novel. There is also a concept suggested which will have you rethinking and wondering about some of the natural wonders discovered in isolated places of our own world. A novel which just might lead you to your own flights of fancy.
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  • Lindsay Bee
    February 10, 2017
    [Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy ARC of this book from NetGalley. Thank you to the publishers!]This book leaves me feeling...conflicted.Conflicted in almost every way. Its pace, its subject matter, its characters--all of these facets have both lots of positive points in their favor but yet almost as many strikes against them. The writing is very good; descriptive without being exhausting, beautiful without turning purple. I enjoyed the writing on its own very much. But the story. It's at on [Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy ARC of this book from NetGalley. Thank you to the publishers!]This book leaves me feeling...conflicted.Conflicted in almost every way. Its pace, its subject matter, its characters--all of these facets have both lots of positive points in their favor but yet almost as many strikes against them. The writing is very good; descriptive without being exhausting, beautiful without turning purple. I enjoyed the writing on its own very much. But the story. It's at once simple but also needlessly spun out. I felt throughout that I was reading a lot of nothing leading up to minimal pay-offs. There were plot points that fizzled out into dead-ends, conflicts that were wrapped up with very little concern, characters that I felt were almost useless in propping up the main goals of the book. The main character is likable and relatable but his voice, at times, is very modern for a book taking place in the mid-1800s. It was jarring at times, vague anachronisms that interrupted the flow of the story. I also really don't know how to feel about some aspects of the plot; it's a careful business, writing about agents of the British Empire and their adventures abroad. You're skirting around a difficult history of torture, imperial violence, out and out genocide and I feel like this book didn't play for any balance. The imperial danger is barely mentioned, and resolved in a way that struck me as...white savior-ism, to an extent. The relationships in the book are very...unsatisfying. Nothing comes of much of them, or they're handled almost superficially. I'm all for slow burns but not if they fizzle into nothing, not if you build up a sort of almost super-human devotion and allow it to go absolutely nowhere. Even after writing this all out, I'm still conflicted. I think I WANTED to like this book more than I actually did because there are so many interesting and beautiful threads here and the writing is so good, but altogether the tapestry is muddied.
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  • Dayle (the literary llama)
    July 14, 2017
    RATING: ★★★★☆ / 4 Thrilling and Dreamlike StarsREVIEW: I received this book from Bloomsbury Publishing in exchange for an honest review.I love how Natasha Pulley's books just bust out of those typical genre walls. After reading the author's first book, THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET, I was enamored with her unique writing style and her blending of so many different genres. And THE BEDLAM STACKS has officially made me a lifelong fan because it's clear Natasha Pulley is only going to get better RATING: ★★★★☆ / 4 Thrilling and Dreamlike StarsREVIEW: I received this book from Bloomsbury Publishing in exchange for an honest review.I love how Natasha Pulley's books just bust out of those typical genre walls. After reading the author's first book, THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET, I was enamored with her unique writing style and her blending of so many different genres. And THE BEDLAM STACKS has officially made me a lifelong fan because it's clear Natasha Pulley is only going to get better and better with each book.I was hooked from the very first page. Mysterious, intriguing, and the witty British repartee is so spot on. Perhaps I was already tuned in to the author's style but I loved the set-up for the entire book at the beginning before any real action started. The descriptions and conversations were so amazing that I was on page 75 before I even knew it. I mean, exploding trees! Strange statues and mysterious letters...I was pulled straight in.THE BEDLAM STACKS is definitely one of those books that is hard to put down (I warned you, so don't blame me when you find yourself losing sleep just so you can read one more page). But at the same time, just like Pulley's first book, the pacing is a bit slower than you might be used to reading However, even though I use the word "slower" it doesn't feel like like it drags. The best way I can describe it is being immersed. You're being immersed in this world and these characters. You're given time to see everything and feel everything. By the end it feels like a complete experience.Merrick, oh Merrick. He might just be one of my favorite new book characters. He's a surprisingly complex character. A bit broken and newly hesitant but also with an inner fire and drive that he'll never lose that propels him onward and upward. A former smuggler with a heart of gold. The way he evolves throughout the book was mesmerizing to me. Placing him in a remote village in Peru surrounded by mysterious people and magical pollen and trees was equal parts dreamlike and thrilling.There's a mystery/magical realism element to the book that isn't actually too mysterious for the reader. That doesn't mean it's boring or anti-climactic though because you're still not quite sure what's coming after Merrick learns what we the reader have already figured out. The end events are still a complete surprise because even with the all the secrets coming to light, the resolutions aren't easy, there is an action packed maze to complete first, and the imagination of the author just keeps escalating.As I learned with Pulley's first book, the relationships that are forged are the true heart of her novels. For all the magical elements and historical curiosities, it's the characters and their connections that keep you reading. Raphael and Merrick, the slow way in which they get to know each other and grow an amazing friendship, it feels epic and big. It gave me all the feels until the very last word.(And for those curious people who have read THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET, there are some interesting crossovers into this book. A few things that will definitely intrigue you and answer a question or two.)Of course I don't want to spoil anything major for you so I won't give anything else away. I'll just say that if you're not familiar with the author's style, it can be a little strange at first, but I definitely think this book is worth finding that rhythm. I loved it and definitely recommend it.
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  • Emma
    June 2, 2017
    First of all, I'd like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.Ever since I finished The Watchmaker of Filigree Street last July, this is the book I’ve been more excited to read than any other. Back before even the title had been announced, when all I knew about it was that Natasha Pulley was writing another book, this time about a priest and a gardener in Peru, featuring exploding ducks at some point – and even that much wa First of all, I'd like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.Ever since I finished The Watchmaker of Filigree Street last July, this is the book I’ve been more excited to read than any other. Back before even the title had been announced, when all I knew about it was that Natasha Pulley was writing another book, this time about a priest and a gardener in Peru, featuring exploding ducks at some point – and even that much was just what I managed to glean from her tweets – I was already looking forward to it with every fibre of my being, because I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve ever read that captured my heart as instantly and completely as The Watchmaker of Filigree Street did. There’s something about Natasha Pulley’s writing style that just resonates with my entire soul: the painstakingly researched, intricate web of incredibly disparate historical and scientific details are a joy for the mind; the idiosyncrasies that make every character come alive, and the gentle, cosy relationships that unfurl between them, warm my heart to its depths; and the subtle touches of magic, woven together so gradually that you barely notice the process until they coalesce into an entire tapestry of wonders, bewitch my imagination in a way that hardly any other books quite manage. That same style, which captivated me so completely in Watchmaker, is just as much in evidence in The Bedlam Stacks, and I can say with no hesitation whatsoever that this book has firmly cemented Natasha Pulley as one of my all-time favourite authors.The Bedlam Stacks itself is a slow caress of a book. As most of the other positive reviews on here have mentioned, it requires patience. I read it quite slowly to begin with, because the first half of the book is a gentle meander to be savoured, not rushed. Several chapters read almost like a travelogue, which suits me down to the ground, particularly when the landscapes described are so steeped in myths and traditions and history, but that’s certainly not all this book is. In fact, I read the last third of the book in one single sitting well after midnight, because while it’s somehow just as gentle and full of wonder as the preceding two thirds, it also ratchets up the pace and tension to a level where putting the book down became almost unthinkable. It’s a truly impressive balancing act.There are two aspects of this book that need to be mentioned individually. First, the characters: as in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, each of the main characters is drawn in loving detail, with a distinct voice and quirks of personality that make each of them come alive instantly. There’s a cameo from a certain Watchmaker character who well and truly stole the show, and another character perhaps impressed me most with how vividly he came to life despite being described so briefly, given that he only appears in one single flashback chapter, but each and every one of the main characters stole my heart in their own way. Somehow, Natasha Pulley’s characters almost always manage to be quietly likeable, without becoming trite or blurring into each other. I’m also particularly fond of the way she writes dialogue - there are a number of offbeat, deadpan lines which just sound so incredibly human, and remind me of the way I tend to talk to my friends, and I’m always helplessly charmed by them.And secondly: the magic. As I’ve already mentioned, the magic in this book creeps up on you gradually. There are so many unusual, little-known, borderline fantastical concepts in this book that are entirely based in history or science - the solar storm, the cinchona trees, the markayuq, to name a few - that when things that have no basis in reality, like the candle ivy, start appearing, or when perfectly real things start behaving in ways that they perhaps shouldn’t, it’s almost impossible to quite catch sight of the line separating reality from myth and magic. It’s immersive, and utterly captivating, with scenes scattered through the book that are so powerfully vivid that I know they’ll stay with me for a long, long time. I have to admit though, that for most of the book I thought I had the magic sussed - most of it is telegraphed reasonably strongly, and I thought that I’d managed to predict the majority of it fairly accurately. But there was one more aspect of it that took me completely and utterly by surprise when it was unveiled right as the book was drawing to a close. Just like with everything else, the hints pointing to it had been scattered through the entire book, but they were subtler, and the payoff took my breath clean away.As for the story itself, I was surprised and delighted by how many of its themes were ones that I find particularly fascinating. There was an emphasis on language throughout, and several passages about translation that, as a professional translator myself, startled me with their perceptiveness and insight. But more than anything else, this is a book about borders - physical borders, uncrossable borders, arbitrary borders, cultural borders, spiritual borders, borders between people, temporal borders, and the ways those borders can be overcome, so that connections can be found and forged in the unlikeliest of places.All in all, I would highly recommend The Bedlam Stacks to anyone who’s willing to take it for what it is: a fairly slow-paced, quietly magical, sometimes thrilling, wonderfully whimsical, deeply human tale of how time changes all of us, but some more than others. I truly cannot wait to see what Natasha Pulley will write next.
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  • Wart Hill
    February 15, 2017
    You can read this and other reviews at Things I Find While Shelving I received a free ARC via NetGalleyThis is the story of a man who thinks he has passed his usefulness. After being hit by shrapnel - an episode that features an old friend from Pulley’s previous novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street - leaves him with a wounded leg, Merrick Tremayne leaves his job with the East India Company and retires to his family home. He and his brother live together, surviving along with the dilapidated You can read this and other reviews at Things I Find While Shelving I received a free ARC via NetGalleyThis is the story of a man who thinks he has passed his usefulness. After being hit by shrapnel - an episode that features an old friend from Pulley’s previous novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street - leaves him with a wounded leg, Merrick Tremayne leaves his job with the East India Company and retires to his family home. He and his brother live together, surviving along with the dilapidated house surrounding them. When the East India Company contacts Merrick with an opportunity to travel to Peru in hopes of gathering cinchona cuttings to circumvent the quinine monopoly, he assumes a mistake as been made and is ready to pass up the chance, even if it means being sent off by his brother to be a parson.But some old friends - Clem and his wife, Minna - arrive and assure Merrick it wasn’t a mistake. That the East India Company picked Merrick for his expertise with plants as well as his family’s past connection with Peru - his Grandfather spent time there in a town called New Bethlehem and his father was born there.In Peru, Minna sends Clem and Merrick ahead and they meet Martel, a trader, who does not believe their story about coffee, but plays into it and sends them on their way with a guide, Raphael, from New Bethlehem, which is also known as ‘Bedlam’. Raphael is quiet and closed off, knows full well what Merrick and Clem are after, and while he tolerates them because Martel says he must he clearly isn’t pleased with their presence on the journey or in his village.For Clem, this is frustrating. For Merrick, things get a little more interesting because of his connection to New Bethlehem. He also finds that he fits right in in New Bethlehem, which is a gathering place for the disabled and the sick. They are brought, Raphael tells him, when they are young. Left at the church at night so that they will be cared for and safe. Little by little, as more about New Bethlehem is revealed to him, Merrick begins to find a place there.But Clem is in a hurry to find the cinchona, to get the cuttings, to get them to India. So he ignores Raphael’s warnings and steps into the woods. His actions speed up the journey, sending Raphael and Merrick off to find the cinchona, racing against Martel as well as something that dwells in the trees. Protectors that Clem dismissed as clockwork and superstition. The journey isn’t the only thing that quickens, Raphael has been undergoing a change since long before Merrick entered his life and entering the woods seems to speed that process up. Soon it isn’t only the cinchona that Merrick needs to get to safety, but this man he has grown close to as well.The Bedlam Stacks is a slow trek, much like the one its characters take. It is, much like Pulley’s previous work, quietly queer and with a hint of the supernatural. Pulley crafts every step of the journey so well, painting this beautiful story for the reader. The pace, though slow, works nicely with her style and the feel of the characters. As with The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, I quickly fell in love with The Bedlam Stacks.
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  • lottie
    April 19, 2017
    Natasha...
  • anna
    July 29, 2017
    this is such a slow, rich, delicate, magical story!! it's not slow in the uneventful kind of way tho but rather: the beautiful, old-fashioned writing causes u to slow down, to notice & properly appreciate every little detail. this glacial pace makes perfect sense for a plot like this one as well... & yes, it takes a while before u get accustomed to that rhythm but oh! once u do!! it's also one of the most hopeful stories i've read in a long time (at least when u don't think abt what will this is such a slow, rich, delicate, magical story!! it's not slow in the uneventful kind of way tho but rather: the beautiful, old-fashioned writing causes u to slow down, to notice & properly appreciate every little detail. this glacial pace makes perfect sense for a plot like this one as well... & yes, it takes a while before u get accustomed to that rhythm but oh! once u do!! it's also one of the most hopeful stories i've read in a long time (at least when u don't think abt what will happen after...) & for its ending alone i would give this book all the stars in the sky.
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  • Jess
    June 7, 2017
    A very warm thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.I have been anxiously awaiting this book for quite a while, and I’m so happy to report that it did not disappoint. Fans of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street will understand what I mean when I say that Natasha Pulley’s works have a Special Something that is felt so fully while reading but near impossible to capture in words after the fact. (Just…read them yourself, okay. A very warm thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.I have been anxiously awaiting this book for quite a while, and I’m so happy to report that it did not disappoint. Fans of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street will understand what I mean when I say that Natasha Pulley’s works have a Special Something that is felt so fully while reading but near impossible to capture in words after the fact. (Just…read them yourself, okay. You’ll understand.) But one thing you must know before going into her books is that they are slow in the best of ways; they take their time and so must you. Reading this book in particular feels very much like exploring a forest - walking unhurriedly, pressing your palm up against each tree, taking deep and deliberate breaths. The idea is not to focus on coming out the other end, but to become well acquainted with everything around you and enjoy the journey.And what a wonderful journey it was! Pulley is brilliant at setting. Having spent some time in Peru, she’s done her research and it shows, but what’s special is all the little elements she brings to life, both those rooted in reality and those imagined. She takes you to the smallest crevices of every space, and describes the most seemingly minute details and movements with a sense of wonder and ease at the very same time. The result is that the most ordinary things appear magical and the most magical things appear so genuine that the line between reality and magic becomes as thin as thread. Spectacular things happen in this book, but they're always so believable. Pulley has created a world so delicately drawn and immersive that, upon finishing, it seems almost odd to go outside and find that hummingbirds don’t leave ghost shapes behind in luminous pollen.But as was the case in Watchmaker, it’s the characters and the relationships that grow between them that ultimately makes this book really hit me in the Heart Place. There are several compelling characters in this book, including one who will be delightfully familiar to those who’ve read Watchmaker, but it is, perhaps inevitably, Merrick and Raphael who shine the brightest. Each of them is written with care and joy, and while I want to be careful not to say too much, I will say that the connection they share is a thing of beauty. One of my favorite things about the way Pulley does relationships is that she is willing and patient enough to occasionally leave space - between bodies, between words - so that when that space is traversed it is all the more stunning. The dialogue in this book is charming, and Pulley moves effortlessly from wit to sorrow, but equally important are all the things that are communicated wordlessly, in the nudge of an elbow, the drawing down of one’s eyes, or the serving of coffee. I don’t know what else to say except that it is breathtakingly human.And while this book may be whimsical and cozy, it brings a lot of important issues/subjects to the table. There are so many conversations to be had about a number of those subjects, but most notably race, imperialism, religion, and disability. To try to discuss all of them and how this book engages with them here would be impossible, but there are certainly discussions to be had and I’ll be thinking more about them when I (inevitably) reread.All in all, a beautiful book that has so much going for it and was utterly enjoyable to experience. I’m giving it 4 stars now as I let certain things process and settle into the ending, but if I change it to 5 stars during my second go, well, I won’t be surprised. (Get ready to call me out.)
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  • eva
    June 16, 2017
    natasha: shit, i forgot to write the kiss in, dude, i'm so sorry!!!me: nat, i don't care. i love it. you figured out the thing i wanted more than anything else in the entire world and you wrote it for me, and... it's perfect. natasha: happy pride month :)me: yeah.ok a slightly more serious review might come in a while, but i just finished it and i'm TOO IN LOVE to think properly.
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  • Caravaggion
    July 14, 2017
    I AM SO EMOTIONAL HOW DARE THIS BOOK EVEN i might write a more eloquent review one day but not today, im too overwhelmed i need a thousand year break from life
  • Catherine
    July 22, 2017
    HAD A BIG CRY LADS
  • Rachael (RedRchlReads)
    February 9, 2017
    Release date August 1, 2017.I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.5 StarsIt's no secret that I absolutely adore The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. I listened to the audiobook last year and immediately fell in love with Pulley's writing and the atmosphere she builds throughout the course of the book. When I saw her new book on NetGalley, I jumped at the opportunity to snag a copy. The Bedlam Stacks, a companion novel to Watchmaker, is every bit as won Release date August 1, 2017.I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.5 StarsIt's no secret that I absolutely adore The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. I listened to the audiobook last year and immediately fell in love with Pulley's writing and the atmosphere she builds throughout the course of the book. When I saw her new book on NetGalley, I jumped at the opportunity to snag a copy. The Bedlam Stacks, a companion novel to Watchmaker, is every bit as wonderful as her first book. It's so hard to pick a favorite part of these books, but I would have to say it is the writing. Pulley has a beautiful writing style that truly brings the story to life. The word choices are intentional, well researched, and thought out. These are not books to be rushed. They are best when savored. To quote another reviewer, the term "slow burn" was practically created for these novels. Although the plot is fairly simple and straightforward, it is the way that the story unfolds that is so magical. Because of its lyrical quality, these books are divine when read aloud. I highly recommend the audiobook of Watchmaker and I'm sure that the audiobook of The Bedlam Stacks will be no different. The story starts in London, in a mansion well on its way to dilapidation as a result of the dwindling finances of the Tremayne family line. It doesn't take long however, before the story moves to Peru and the hunt for cinchona trees to produce quinine. Pulley spent quite a bit of time visiting and living in Peru, which really comes through in her descriptions of the breathtaking and mystical land. It is in those tiny details where the magic of worldbuilding really happens. Her descriptions of everything from the mountains to altitude sickness, rivers of glass and snow atop the cliffs, whitewoods and the beauty of the pollen are vivid and masterful. But I'll leave that to you to discover. I felt as if I were living in among the characters, with each chapter revealing something more wondrous than the last. To me, the majority of Pulley's characters are quiet souls, in a way. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but they seem as if they have soft hearts. I loved Merrick just as much as I loved Thaniel. I loved watching him grow and change throughout the story. In the beginning, he was a broken man with a broken leg who had little to live for, but the journey to the end is really a beautiful one. Clem is a bit of a character - I'll just leave it at that - though I do wish we saw more of Minna. A few cameo appearances by a favorite...and then there is Raphael. At first I really was not sure what part Raphael was going to play in the story, and was a bit wary of him. But the way the stories wove together in the end was so beautiful and bittersweet. It was truly perfect. I feel as if I really knew the characters and was sad to say goodbye to them at the end of the book.There is so much more I could say about this book, but it should really be experienced firsthand. I generally try to go into books blind, often not even reading the synopsis as I find not have any preconceived notions or expectations makes the experience that much more enjoyable. I highly recommend both of Natasha Pulley's books to anyone who enjoys a well written slow burning fantasy novel that will draw the reader in and stick with them long after reading the end. She is definitely an author to watch and has solidified her place as an auto-buy author for me.
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  • Shae McDaniel
    February 3, 2017
    I could curl up and die of bliss, the world-building and friendships are so amazing. Nnnnnnnngh.
  • Shaunesay Eslanai
    July 20, 2017
    I loved this book, there is so much here, magic and mystery, an intriguing landscape and historical elements both in the 1800's and ancient Peru. It really grabbed my Anthropology loving heart, and my need for character's that I can care about.The Bedlam Stacks starts off with the feel of a historical fiction with a few odd elements that are mentioned in the description above. It slowly transforms into a more and more magical story, but retains that feel of historical truth. It seriously had me I loved this book, there is so much here, magic and mystery, an intriguing landscape and historical elements both in the 1800's and ancient Peru. It really grabbed my Anthropology loving heart, and my need for character's that I can care about.The Bedlam Stacks starts off with the feel of a historical fiction with a few odd elements that are mentioned in the description above. It slowly transforms into a more and more magical story, but retains that feel of historical truth. It seriously had me just about to start looking up flora of Peru to see if what was described really existed! After all, it mostly takes place in darkest Peru and strange and surprising things are continually found in South America! The main characters are well developed and complex, and the growing relationship between them is interesting and also makes you wonder what their underlying motivation is. I liked both Merrick and Raphael very much, as well as the host of side characters that bolstered them.If I have a criticism it's that I don't think it should be marketed as General Fiction, because when it does turn to the more fantastical elements of the story, it really turns, and it might be more than I think General Fiction can stretch to accommodate. Devotees of historical fiction might feel mislead, I'll admit I wasn't expecting as much of a change to fantasy as I got, but being already a fan of the genre, I'm fine with it and loved the whole thing.I will definitely go back and read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, and look forward to future work by Natasha Pulley!
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  • Karen ⊰✿
    July 6, 2017
    It is 1859 and Merrick Tremayne is our MC who was an adventurer, but now due to an injury which made him lame, is stuck in his crumbling family home. He is given the opportunity to go to Peru and thrown into a small Inca village where he starts to discover their spiritual beliefs, and things that don't seem quite right.I enjoyed this book, I think even more than Watchmaker of Filigree Street, but found it a touch slow and I never really connected with Merrick. I did think that the character of R It is 1859 and Merrick Tremayne is our MC who was an adventurer, but now due to an injury which made him lame, is stuck in his crumbling family home. He is given the opportunity to go to Peru and thrown into a small Inca village where he starts to discover their spiritual beliefs, and things that don't seem quite right.I enjoyed this book, I think even more than Watchmaker of Filigree Street, but found it a touch slow and I never really connected with Merrick. I did think that the character of Raphael (priest in Bedlam) was very well done and that kept the story engaging.For those who enjoy magical realism with a dash of old school history, this book is for you!Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Clamaanda
    July 25, 2017
    a little bit more sadly: Raphael??!1
  • Becca
    July 11, 2017
    I won a proof copy of this book through Goodreads which in itself is very exciting but considering how much I loved Natasha Pulley's first book I was ecstatic. If you loved The Watchmaker of Filigree Street then you should love this one too. Set in Cornwall and Peru the two landscapes juxtapose each other perfectly and the magical elements are so rooted in the story you almost forget that they are unusual in any way. The thing I love about Pulley's writing is how it's slow and gentle but in the I won a proof copy of this book through Goodreads which in itself is very exciting but considering how much I loved Natasha Pulley's first book I was ecstatic. If you loved The Watchmaker of Filigree Street then you should love this one too. Set in Cornwall and Peru the two landscapes juxtapose each other perfectly and the magical elements are so rooted in the story you almost forget that they are unusual in any way. The thing I love about Pulley's writing is how it's slow and gentle but in the best way possible. There are rollercoaster moments in there but every moment is to be savoured rather than forcing you to skim read and flick through the pages like I find with some intense page turners. Her books make me want to take my time reading them and I'll happily read this one again. 5⭐️
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    February 16, 2017
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/“Well, if I’m going to go mad I’m sure I’ll find something to fixate on, whether it’s a statue or a tree near a parsonage or what ever. Why not sign me up to the asylum now?” Merrick Tremayne is trapped at home, because of a severe leg injury. He isn’t really going nuts, at least he doesn’t think he is- even if it’s absurd that a pine explodes. It really does, doesn’t it? Once a smuggler, he is offered an opportunity for adventure. The India Off via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/“Well, if I’m going to go mad I’m sure I’ll find something to fixate on, whether it’s a statue or a tree near a parsonage or what ever. Why not sign me up to the asylum now?” Merrick Tremayne is trapped at home, because of a severe leg injury. He isn’t really going nuts, at least he doesn’t think he is- even if it’s absurd that a pine explodes. It really does, doesn’t it? Once a smuggler, he is offered an opportunity for adventure. The India Office wants him to travel to Peru and obtain quinine, but it’s violently dangerous, people do not survive the trek. How is he going to stand a chance when he isn’t fully functioning, with his bum leg? Others have tried and failed. But what is worse, the risk of death or going mad with boredom in Cornwall?Stranger still, the locals stay away- a salt line keeps them out but is it just superstition? Or is it a way to keep people from snooping? People can’t truly lose time, can they? How is it possible a very young priest swears to have known his grandfather, it just isn’t possible. He wouldn’t have been old enough! Could there really be something solid and true about the superstitions the villagers hold fast to? I love magical realism and there is quite a bit going on here but at times I was thrown off where I thought the author was going. It’s an interesting tale, but at times the danger seemed mild, far more mild than it would have been in reality. Or maybe I’ve seen too many movies and my imagination runs a bit rampant. I felt a distance towards the main character but I imagine that would be the sort of man to expect from someone who smuggled for the East India Company . He certainly wouldn’t be an open bleeding wound of emotions. What I love is how reality merges with the belief system of those ‘behind the times.’ It’s the most genuine part of the novel. I had a hard time feeling emotionally bonded to the characters, but it is a good solid story. I need to feel a strong connection, and enjoy emotional displays- be it anger, love, jealousy… this was just too cool for me. Which is likely why I would never be that great of a smuggler.Religion always takes an interesting turn in these sort of stories. What it excuses, how it mixes with politics. Much like superstitions, people are easily manipulated in what they fear or worship. I found myself thinking, how typical of the times, here is a man from another country coming to pillage from others what isn’t rightfully his and we are supposed to be on his side. I was, but with the nagging voice in the back of my mind saying- how dare he! The ending was good but passion, where is the passion? And yet, the writing is good, it is a creative story that with other writers would have escaped it’s creator. The pollen was this playfully magical character in itself, that supplied my mind with quite a visual. The reason for ‘exploding wood’ was fascinating, so much of the story worked. I think had the characters been less level headed and more fiery I would have been more enthralled. With that said, it’s a creative story with just enough magical realism to keep it from verging on the ridiculous. All of it, in the end, came together. I need to read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, I keep hearing it’s really good… If you are for adventure that at times is tame, but with a good solid story then this is perfect for you. Coming soon.Publication Date: August 1, 2017Bloomsbury USA
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  • Care
    January 5, 2017
    Merrick Tremayne has been stuck in his brother's home after a smuggling of goods on behalf of the East India Company went wrong, his leg now permanently crippled. In order to escape a life of drudgery and the growing fear of others that he may have gone mad, Merrick sets off to Peru to find quinine - one of the main ingredients in treating malaria - on behalf of the new India Office, despite several unsuccessful expedition Aries before him. Ending up in the Andean village of New Bethlehem where Merrick Tremayne has been stuck in his brother's home after a smuggling of goods on behalf of the East India Company went wrong, his leg now permanently crippled. In order to escape a life of drudgery and the growing fear of others that he may have gone mad, Merrick sets off to Peru to find quinine - one of the main ingredients in treating malaria - on behalf of the new India Office, despite several unsuccessful expedition Aries before him. Ending up in the Andean village of New Bethlehem where his father had been born, Merrick becomes enshrouded by local myths and magics, and develops a friendship-like relationship with the young priest Raphaels whose own history and life are mysteries. I did not expect to like this book as much as I ultimately did. The work is beautifully written and everything is stunningly described, but I'm not usually one for more adventure-type stories that seem like they border the edge of imperialism. However, I thoroughly enjoyed The Bedlam Stacks and found it compellingly at that edge of realism and fantasy. The characters were carefully wrought; the setting mystical and enthralling; and the pace steady but not slow. A complex and imaginative look at the relationship between mysticism and indigenous populations and modernity and how those all intertwine, it is a masterful piece and a much recommended read (although the pace and the more ambiguous ending may not be for everyone!). Thanks to the publisher for an advance digital copy in exchange for a fair review!
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  • Mel (Epic Reading)
    July 29, 2017
    DNF at 26%I'm not going to rate this book as I'm not sure I gave it a fair shot. But I can say that no matter when I picked it up I just didn't care enough about our main guy. I dunno if it's because he was a bit dull, that the journey into the jungle was boring (and altitude sickness is not that interesting to me as I live at a higher North American elevation), or that I just wasn't in the mood for the style or topic. Either way I am going to leave this one. Haven't not read Natasha Pulley befo DNF at 26%I'm not going to rate this book as I'm not sure I gave it a fair shot. But I can say that no matter when I picked it up I just didn't care enough about our main guy. I dunno if it's because he was a bit dull, that the journey into the jungle was boring (and altitude sickness is not that interesting to me as I live at a higher North American elevation), or that I just wasn't in the mood for the style or topic. Either way I am going to leave this one. Haven't not read Natasha Pulley before maybe I just need time to get used to her style and presentation. I know she's a well respected writer but I just couldn't get into this one. Maybe at a different time, on another day it will go better. For now I'm putting it aside and moving on. Read more of my reviews by visiting my blog at Epic Reading Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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  • Meredith Grimm
    July 21, 2017
    *I was sent an arc by bloomsbury publishing in exchange for my honest review*Holy bananas, I loved this book! After falling in love with The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, I knew Natasha Pulley had turned into an auto buy author for me! She has such a beautiful way of putting you in different countries and cultures, it almost feels like I've been there! Her characters are dynamic, well developed, and hard not to love, flaws and all. The way she weaves historical events into mystery and intrigue *I was sent an arc by bloomsbury publishing in exchange for my honest review*Holy bananas, I loved this book! After falling in love with The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, I knew Natasha Pulley had turned into an auto buy author for me! She has such a beautiful way of putting you in different countries and cultures, it almost feels like I've been there! Her characters are dynamic, well developed, and hard not to love, flaws and all. The way she weaves historical events into mystery and intrigue is astounding, and it keeps me on the edge of my seat! Lovers of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street NEED to read The Bedlam Stacks! Lovers of history, mystery, magical realism, and suspense NEED to read both! What are you waiting for?!
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  • Ananas
    June 14, 2017
    honestly, I simply love everything Natasha Pulley writes, I'm in total awe.
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