Ambrose Parry - Shastrix Books

Ambrose Parry

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The Art of Dying

The Art of Dying

Ambrose Parry

14th February 2021

The second book about Sarah Fisher and Will Raven, medical professionals of mid-nineteenth century Edinburgh, joins Will as he returns from a year away in Europe to take his place as a qualified doctor.

As with the first novel, there are some fairly graphical medical moments that might be uncomfortable reading for some. There are some sad and traumatic events, so might be best read with awareness of this going in.

The style is reminiscent of the author’s usual approach of telling half the story in retrospect - this time with one character’s memories of their past interwoven with events experienced alongside the other characters. This allows for quite a grim but realistic exploration of the historical context of the novel in an era quite different from today.

It is another good story, with characters that I found very engaging and world building that does a huge amount to paint the picture of the time. I’m enjoying reading this series and look forward to finding out where the characters will go next.

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The Way of All Flesh

The Way of All Flesh

Ambrose Parry

13th September 2020

I was a bit trepidatious picking up this book. I’m late to the party - having only recently wondered why Chris Brookmyre’s output appeared to have slowed, only to discover from searching online that it’s because he’s been collaborating under the Ambrose Parry name. So having enjoyed his previous works, I was nervous about entering this new world and about whether I would like what I found.

I was in luck - this is an excellent book. Set in Victorian Edinburgh, it follows a young medical apprentice, and the clearly under-utilised genius employed as his mentor’s housemaid. It opens very historically, setting the scene of the time and place, the characters, and their various ‘stations’ and ranks in this society. The structure reminds me a little of fantasy fiction, in doing a decent amount of world building with the opening chapters.

To be honest it could have just been left there - I was hooked by the world and the history and the medicine - the plot almost felt an unnecessary distraction from the rich and thoroughly-researched detail. But arrive the plot did, and it too is a cracker - tying together the era, the characters, and a solid look at key social issues of the time (which while they should be ‘of the time’, and still somehow prescient today).

While some of the medical details were a little more vividly described than I would have appreciated, this realism feels fairly necessary to understanding some of what the book is trying to tell.

Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I can’t wait to pick up the sequel and consume more in a similar vein. I’m glad I found it.

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