Natasha Pulley’s The Bedlam Stacks is a charming romp, one that combines magical and paranormal elements with historical fiction. Young and crippled Merrick Tremayne, English horticulturalist, is given the task of retrieving medicinal quinine bark from the depths of Peru with his friend Clem Markham. On arrival, they are guided to the mysterious town of New Bethlehem, or Bedlam, with the help of the equally mysterious priest and native Raphael. It is here that occurrences of exploding trees, invisible adversaries, and moving statues present the visiting men with a myth of a place that is never as it seems. A novel that slips through (and plays with) both time and reality, The Bedlam Stacks is whimsical, surreal, unexpectedly romantic, and an overall lovely work that constitutes a completely immersive and entertaining read.

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