17-year-old Hazel Sinnett has always wanted to be a surgeon, but that is not an option for a lady of society such as herself in Scotland in 1817. However, with her father away on military post and her mother on holiday with her younger brother, Hazel takes advantage of the lack of supervision to disguise herself as a man and begin surgical studies at the Royal Anatomist’s Society. When Hazel meets Jack, a “Resurrection Man” who digs up corpses to sell to the medical market, they both find themselves unexpectedly close to sinister events occurring in Edinburgh’s streets and graveyards.
This Gothic YA mystery is brilliantly paced and plotted, and it deftly illuminates the challenges facing motivated young women in the early 1800s. Hazel is a high-spirited and bold heroine, and I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the “love story” in the subtitle refers to her obsession with science. There is, of course, a tender traditional romance here as well, but the heart of the story centers around Hazel’s growing love of medicine and her developing awareness of class differences, societal expectations, and opportunity.
For Adult and Young Adult fans of classics like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this entertaining novel gives a dose of the same macabre intrigue alongside a fascinating portrayal of medicine, disease, and death in Regency Scotland. And audio fans will be delighted by Scottish actress Mhairi Morrison’s animated narration in the audio edition. The ending may leave some readers wanting more, but hopefully the conclusion of the duology (due out in February of 2023) will satisfy!