Review: The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones, Jack Wolf

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley from the publisher in return for an honest review*
The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones Jack Wolf cover
Meet Tristan Hart, a brilliant young man of means. The year is 1751, and Mr Hart leaves his Berkshire home for London to lodge with his father's friend, the novelist and dramatist Henry Fielding, and study medicine at the great hospital of University College. It will be a momentous year for the cultured and intellectually ambitious Mr Hart, who, as well as being a student of Locke and Descartes and a promising young physician, is also, alas, a psychopath. His obsession is the nature of pain, and preventing it during medical procedures. His equally strong and far more unpredictable obsession is the nature of pain, and causing it. Desperate to understand his own deviant desires before they derail his career and drive him mad, Tristan sifts through his childhood memories, memories that are informed by dark superstitions about faeries and goblins and shape-shifting gypsies. Will the new tools of the age-reason and science and skepticism- be enough to save him?

Jack Wolf was born in Bath, and has spent most of his life in rural Somerset. He wanted to be a singer until his interests in faerie tales and in social history led to a writing career. The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones is his first novel. He is currently studying for a PhD and working on his second novel.

I first saw this book on Giraffe's Day from Shannon and was intrigued by the idea of the old English combined with a story of a psychopath. As soon as you open the book you are pulled into an atmosphere with a dark gray feeling to it. Tristan clearly is a boy who thinks to much and has weird ideas, starting with a disturbing obsession with his boyhood friend to his love for dissecting animals without even flinching. As the book develops more and more of his interesting ideas are brought up even though the way it does makes you consider at points that he can actually not help himself. Still it is hard to connect to Tristan.
The story itself is carried by atmosphere more than story.There are parts of the book I felt where to detailed where other parts where not detailed enough. This makes you think the detailed parts hold a significance but that did not always become clear. This made me feel that the pretty big 500+ pages book could have done with a few less pages. I found the psychotic episodes from Tristan difficult to read. Not because they are pain full or depressing but because they are to weird and I could not really follow them. I understand this should give a better idea about what is happening in his head but it confused and distracted me from the story.  I did like the whole health development history. Tristan wants to become a surgeon and the knowledge that was available in that period was worked out well and some of the conclusions made by doctors in that time really made me cringe with the knowledge I have of the same diseases today.

The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones
Author: Jack Wolf
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN-10: 0143123823
ISBN-13: 9780143123828 (paperback)
Pages: 560
Format: eGalley
Penguin Books : eBook | Paperback

3 star review
 
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01 July, 2013 delete

It's a shame that you found parts of the book distracting. I guess I wouldn't consider reading this book then. I do however like the cover!

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