Set in the 1820s in Edinburgh, a city of cruel contrasts between the lives of the rich and poor, and home to the infamous Burke and Hare, who sold their murder victims to brilliant anatomist Dr Robert Knox. This is the evocative, often harrowing story of a boy who must survive the pain of his mother's death, at the hands of Doctor Knox. A compelling novel by the author of Mondays Are Red.
It is Edinburgh, 1822, and young Robbie is eight years old when he witnesses his mother's pain and subsequent death from an operation - without anaesthetic - to remove a tumour from her breast at the hands of Dr Knox. Haunted by this terrible event, Robbie, his hapless father and baby sister Essie attempt to move on with their lives. But when Robbie's father loses all their money and disappears, Robbie is left to look after himself and his sister in the Edinburgh slums. Somehow he falls in with Burke and Hare, the two men whom Knox employs to 'collect' bodies for medical research. Robbie sees a way to avenge his mother's death. Convincing himself that Knox is having people killed for him to experiment on, Robbie eventually confronts him. But Robbie comes to realise that for all his hard-heartedness and corrupt methods, Knox's motives are ultimately for the good: to improve surgical conditions, and operate on patients with the greatest speed and therefore minimum risk. Robbie eventually trains to be a surgeon, finally giving meaning to his mother's tragic death.
This is a tough thriller, a delicate love story and a powerfully evocative historical novel. At its heart is a young man's obsession with the mother he lost under horrendous, bizarre circumstances. Set in Edinburgh at a time in which the city was at the vanguard of medical advance, Morgan reveals the deep moral dilemmas that accompanied meaningful research at the time. Her descriptions of Edinburgh's Old Town, decaying, corrupt and dangerous, are extraordinarily vivid. Lives were cheap, both within and out of the medical faculty.
Morgan is a confident, courageous and honest writer. Fleshmarket is a tour de force, from its attention-grabbing prologue onwards. - Lindsey Fraser
This book grabs you and never lets you go. - The Glasgow Herald
Outstanding ... a book that deserves attention - The Bookseller
A gripping and intelligent read. - The Sunday Telegraph
A dramatic and thought-provoking book. Nicola Morgan is a fine writer. - David Almond
Novel beginnings are seldom more dramatic or more grim than the first 10 pages of Nicola Morgan's Fleshmarket. This is sweat-on-the-forehead stuff. In the startling introduction to her story, Morgan, an uncompromising writer who doesn't believe in holding back, takes you straight to the painful centre of what is to follow and leaves you gasping.
Fleshmarket is well and truly a book that thrills, but behind the rip-roaring plot there is a painful truth that none of us should ever forget. This is an important book that lives up to the expectations of its evocative title and dramatic cover. Stories don't come any more powerful than this. - Sunday Young Post
Nicola Morgan is an international speaker and award-winning author for and about teenagers. She has written nearly 100 books, including novels such as Fleshmarket (currently being adapted for the London stage) and Mondays are Red, but in the last twelve years she has become increasingly well known for her passionate factual work on adolescence, with Blame My Brain - The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed and The Teenage Guide to Stress being seminal titles for teenagers and the adults who work with and care about them. A former teacher and dyslexia specialist, Nicola now writes and speaks around the world on a range of subjects relating to adolescence and wellbeing, as well as the reading brain, reading for pleasure and the effects of life online. Her positive, respectful and empathetic attitude towards young people naturally led her to write Positively Teenage.