This is a story about Tristan Hart, set in the 1700’s England. But in this story, there are not only humans, but also gypsies, goblins and things like that. He grows up, living with his father, his little sister Jane and spends his days with his best friend Nathaniel Ravenscroft. Tristan is a brilliant young man who, when he becomes a young man, spends a lot of time reading books about philosophy and other subjects. His father gets him private tutors.
Other people look at Tristan and see a young man with a troubled mind. They think he is mad. Tristan hears very loud drumming in his head, something the others can’t hear. They give him medicine and orders him to rest. He has several epidodes where he tries to attack people.
Tristan has a passion for the human body. He wants to understand how the body works, what mind and soul really is. He is also fascinated about pain, what causes it and how to remove the pain. And he is obsessed with causing pain to others. In his own little laboratory he studies dead animals, cuts them open and carefully document what he is looking at. He preserves them in special liquids and has a large collection of dead animals in jars.
He gets a chance to travel to London to study to become a doctor. Dr. Hunter is his teacher and he has several other students who he teaches. Hunter even let them perform authopsies on real human bodies and later Tristan assists Hunter in a surgery to remove a cancer tumor.
Tristan works very hard and he is stressed. He spends time on a whorehouse, where he beats up girls, fascinated about the scars he create. He also tries to understand why he can not remember his mother at all. And where did his friend Nathaniel go? Tristan also spends time wondering what Raw Head and Bloody Bones actually means. Both he and his little sister Jane end up getting married. Once he sees a baby with little wings on his back and Tristan can’t help wondering whether that baby is his own.
It’s a very interesting story. I do recommend it to other people. The only thing I was bothered about, was the language. As it is set in the 1700´s the author uses old school English, with certain words that I could not understand. He also uses a different kind of spelling for many of the words (for example Sunne, which is the sun), and chooses to begin lots of words, inside sentences, with a capital letter. So he writes about searching the ”Keys to the wine Cellar” and ”emerging with a Bottle of port Wine in each Hand”, just to give a few examples. It took a while to get used to the capital letters.
I give the novel, which is the author’s first novel, a strong 3,5 out of 5. What brought the marks down was the language that I described earlier.
Paperback, 560 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2013)
Historical fiction, thriller