Shortlisted, Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic
Longlisted, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
From the acclaimed author of Daniel O'Thunder comes a rollicking, bawdy, and haunting novel about love and redemption, death and resurrection.
The great metropolis of London swaggers with Regency abandon as nineteen-year-old Will Starling returns from the Napoleonic Wars having spent five years assisting a military surgeon. Charming, brash, and damaged, Will is helping his mentor build a medical practice — and a life — in the rough Cripplegate area. To do so requires an alliance with the Doomsday Men: body snatchers that supply surgeons and anatomists with human cadavers.
After a grave robbing goes terribly awry and a prostitute is accused of murder, Will becomes convinced of an unholy conspiracy that traces its way back to Dionysus Atherton, the brightest of London's rising surgical stars. Wild rumours begin to spread of experiments upon the living and of uncanny sightings in London's dark streets.
Will's obsessive search for the truth twists through alleyways, brothels, and charnel houses, towards a shattering discovery — about Dionysus Atherton and about Will, himself.
Steeped in scientific lore, laced with dark humour, Will Starling is historical fiction like none other.
- Long-listed, IMPAC Dublin International Literary Award 2016
- Short-listed, Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic 2015
"Like the boy who gives the book its name, Will Starling is quick on its feet, and takes pride in always staying one step ahead of whoever it's telling its story to... Weir's writing is so springy, and his vision so panoramic, that you won't care that the novel makes you feel as though you've got dirt under your fingernails just from reading it. Yet amid the muck, Will Starling also presents a ringing and surprisingly touching endorsement of science over legend and anecdote."- Michael Hingston
"Will Starling is a sly, spirited hero who leaps off the page to take you on a riveting journey through London's glorious hair-raising underbelly — surgeons' salons, gin shops, and the puzzle of Death itself — and straight into the nature of storytelling. Weir's prose is both raw and lyrical; his evocation of Regency London, magnificent. Will Starling is a must read."- Stacy Carlson
"We're in 1816 Regency London, and young Will, back from the Napoleonic war on the continent, is engaged in setting up a clinic in London's dodgy Cripplegate. Weir has written a note-perfect historical novel of body snatching, murder and evil fun."- <i>Toronto Star</i>
"A magnificent new novel…a sumptuous Frankensteinian potboiler of knockabout slang, scientific lore, rollicking personalities and atmosphere thick as fog… While its themes of death, scientific perversion, classism and poverty may be dark as pitch, Weir's style and wit ensures the novel remains a boisterous, subversive romp."- <i>Publishers Weekly</i>
"[Weir]’s taken the kind of nascently-pre-Victorian narrative that might have been written by Fielding or Richardson or their slightly later compatriots (the book takes place in 1816), with that mode’s picaresque, loquacious, directly-address-the audience-baggy-pants-style, and created a new instance of such. No nudge-nudge or smarmy aren’t-we-superior attitude. Just a rollicking good tale in the manner of his literary ancestors… Weir has assembled a vast assortment of unforgettable characters here, granting each one full individuality and agency… [T]he city of London comes alive with brawling, loving, laughing and weeping humanity."- <i>Locus Online</i>
"An extraordinary rendition of life in Regency-era London… Weir has written a mystery worthy of every word while adding historical tidbits… Characters rollick and scheme through a plot as snaky as a London alley in a setting as powerful as a chamber pot tossed from a garret window… What Dickens might have written had he set loose Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll to explore the doomsday trade."- <i>Kirkus Reviews</i>
"Ian Weir crafts a wonderfully, thrillingly fun — if truly smelly and gross — romp. The cadaver trade, slit throats, stabbings, cudgelings, bodies dangling from nooses, a villainous, hubristic surgeon named Dionysus Atherton, Resurrection Men, Doomsday Men, and the Boggle-Eyed Man, unholy scientific exploration, a could-be zombie, a deranged housekeeper hooked on laudanum, and a clockwork of machinations fill Will's clever and masterfully told 'lurid tale.'"- <i>Winnipeg Review</i>
"A rollicking good yarn with many twists and turns, Will Starling is a kaleidoscope of beautiful ghastliness. It's a lot of fun and a tale well told."- <i>Vancouver Sun</i>