**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
The Corpse Queen
In this dark and twisty feminist historical thriller, a teenage girl starts a new life as a grave robber but quickly becomes entangled in a murderer’s plans.
Soon after her best friend Kitty mysteriously dies, orphaned seventeen-year-old Molly Green is sent away to live with her “aunt.” With no relations that she knows of, Molly assumes she has been sold as free domestic labor for the price of an extra donation in the church orphanage’s coffers. Such a thing is not unheard of. There are only so many options for an unmarried girl in 1850s Philadelphia. Only, when Molly arrives, she discovers her aunt is very much real, exceedingly wealthy, and with secrets of her own. Secrets and wealth she intends to share–for a price.
Molly’s estranged aunt Ava, has built her empire by robbing graves and selling the corpses to medical students who need bodies to practice surgical procedures. And she wants Molly to help her procure the corpses. As Molly learns her aunt’s trade in the dead of night and explores the mansion by day, she is both horrified and deeply intrigued by the anatomy lessons held at the old church on her aunt’s property. Enigmatic Doctor LaSalle’s lessons are a heady mixture of knowledge and power and Molly has never wanted anything more than to join his male-only group of students. But the cost of inclusion is steep and with a murderer loose in the city, the pursuit of power and opportunity becomes a deadly dance.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads
Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.
“A person’s body is a gift. If someone chooses to accept that gift, then it is their duty to honor it.”
(3.5 / 5) This was a dark thriller of a serial killer that felt in the times of the early 1900’s or so. Molly’s best friend mysteriously dies and it leads her on the hunt for the killer.
I enjoyed the detective work and the desire for her to make things right. Molly became a student at a medical school where she was very much not wanted because of her gender. I admired her grit to ensure her place in the medical field but to also excel at what she did. At night, she was paid to retrieve dead bodies for her aunt who supported the medical school. The bodies were brought in for study.
I was entertained but not immersed. Even though I did not see the end coming, it didn’t wow me like I expected. Parts of it left me feeling a bit let down and unfulfilled. It did remind me of the Jack the Ripper series and I recommend this to those who enjoy that series.
Content Summary: The highest content would be for the body descriptions. It regularly describes the smell, how they feel and how they look. This book is not for the squeamish.
Thank you to Penguin Teen for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.
The book releases September 14, 2021.
Detailed Content Review
Derogatory terms etc-
Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking
A man smokes a cigarette.
A young woman and man stumble out of a door, drunk.
A young woman and man drink wine.
Three teens drink alcohol at a party.
A group of men have beer.
A young woman downs a shot of absinthe.
A man holds a cloth of chloroform to a laboring woman to help her sleep.
A pub is full of many men drinking. A young woman and young man drink beer.
A woman smokes a pipe.
A group of young women and women drink wine.
A woman is severely addicted to laudanum.
Two young women drink beer. Dancers are pouring champagne into patrons’ mouths.
A young woman drinks port with her dinner.
Champagne is served at a party.
Many people have been poisoned and killed.
Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty
*No LGBTQ+ aspects included*
A young woman was rumored to be pregnant out of marriage.
On a street, “Men ducked into doorways with women not their wives, and young girls…sold themselves for a quarter.”
A man pays a groundskeeper to let him “ride” the body of a dead young woman before she is buried.
At a party, people yell to a young woman onstage; “Show us your arse! Show us yer feckin’ bum!”
Previously, at a factory, men would buy the small girls gifts instead of pay. Then those turned into sexual favors from the girls to not have to work.
A group of young women are prostitutes but it is very vague.
A young man kisses a young woman.
A young woman kisses a young man.
A young woman tells a woman she shouldn’t sleep with men like that. The woman responds that it’s her job.
A young man kisses a young woman.
Many look at the naked body of a dead young woman.
Previously, a man raped a young woman. He swiped the blood from between her legs and remarked her virginity.
“And there he was. Or someone like him. At the time, it did not matter. Pants down around his ankles with a whore no older than me—I knew her by her red petticoat, her skirts up around her head. His eyes were blank as he rutted, making her the same promises he’d made me.”
Violence, Weapons, Crime, Blood
A young woman opens a box to see a man’s head; “The dead man’s forehead was stretched twice as wide as a normal one should be, the flesh blown up like a balloon. Large blue veins wound around the taut skin, like worms nestling into the discolored skin.” …her palms brushed against wiry hair as her fingers dug into spongy, rotting flesh. It felt exactly like soft cheese,..”
In an orphanage, girls hands are bound then ice water is dumped over them. One tries to drown herself in the water.
Women tend to go missing nearby. Their bodies show up days later.
A woman is missing. It is rumored that her husband hit her regularly and that he went too far this time.
A man uses pliers to pull out the teeth of a dead young woman.
A young girl is in an asylum for poisoning her mother with arsenic.
A man regularly steals the teeth from corpses.
A woman’s body is found with the skin taken off the torso and a missing ear. A carriage driving over it crushed the skull. The teeth were missing.
A young woman holds a knife to a man.
A man shoots at a young woman and young man.
A young woman cracks a whip at a man. It hits his hand then shoulder and more then he curls up in a ball.
A young man shoved a man to the floor and puts his foot at his throat.
A man is helping to deliver a baby while teaching students about it. The baby is breech and he states both will not make it and his duty is to the child. A man starts to cut open the belly. He is stopped and a young woman reaches her hand up to turn the baby inside the mothers body. A lot of blood is coming out between the woman’s legs. Then the baby’s head crowns and it slides out slowly and cries. The mother has died.
A woman secretly tried to give herself an abortion.
There is a serial killer killing many in the town and nearby.
A body is found beheaded, missing an arm and flayed open on the torso.
A young girl died at a factory; “It was her hair that caught in the machine. The wheel pulled her under. Ate her limbs one bone at a time.” Her brother beat up the boss “near to death” and then others scarred his face and either took or ruined his eye as the consequence.
A man holds a woman by the neck, her feet not reaching the floor. He then pours kerosene over a body and lights it.
A young woman holds a needle of poison to a woman, intending to stab it in her heart and kill her.
**SPOILER** A man stabs a woman in the chest, blood blossoming on her clothes as she falls. A young woman holds a knife to a man then plunged poison into his heart.
Previously, a young woman stabs a man to death.
Potentially Intense Themes
A young woman looks at the bloated body of a young woman. The description entails what the body looks like and how it smells. The young woman drowned in the river. Suicide and murder are suspected.
A young woman’s parents dropped her off at an orphanage but died of “consumption” before being able to get her again.
A young woman looks through a pile of bodies for a certain one. She sees a young boy, purple and bulging eyes. She sees many more.
A man has a necklace of human teeth. Presumably from corpses.
While moving a corpse, the corpses mouth falls open with a small grunting sound. A young woman is terrified the person isn’t dead.
A body is shown to a crowd that has a human body but a pig head. A man puts some wires on it and the body sits up then smokes from the ears.
A young woman has her sisters dead body propped next to her so pictures can be taken.
A woman makes “medicine” from corpse body parts; “A stew of heart for a lovesick lass, a child’s finger to cure warts.”
A young woman and young man dig up a corpse in a cemetery.
Many people play games with human bones, one carries a small child’s skull and they time each other to put all the bones in place.
Medical students hover over a corpse splayed open.
A woman has a miscarriage. She has been bleeding and in pain for a while. There is a lot of blood.
**Any quotes from the book are taken from the advance copy and therefore may not be fully accurate or correctly compare to the final copy of the book.
**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
It sounds a little bit like some of the S jtr storyline! Definitely checking it out
I’ve seen this compared to the Stalking Jack the Ripper series so many times. I added it to my tbr because of all the comparisons.