Title: The Corpse Queen
Author: Heather Herrman
Genre: YA Historical Fiction / Horror / Thriller
Publication Date: September 14th, 2021
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
“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.” (Goodreads)
This book has been on my radar for awhile now. I kept pushing it off because I was afraid of the lower ratings and didn’t want to be disappointed since I had high hopes for it. I’m glad that my fears were for nothing because this was a very enjoyable book! It wasn’t my usual read as it was very dark, gruesome at times, and there was one scene that I just couldn’t read but, it was well worth it to read the rest.
The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Molly Green. Her life has been anything but grand as she has lived in an orphanage doing labor for them and getting nothing out of it besides disciplined. She has made one great friend from there, Kitty, but everything changes once Kitty comes up dead. From that point on, Molly Green will stop at nothing to find out what happened to her friend.
Molly is a very likeable character. She is smart, ambitious, and cares for those around her. Her compassion is what made her standout the most because when dealing with corpses she at least did it all with a care for who they were even if she hadn’t known them. All of the other characters only had curiosity on their mind.
Besides Molly, I also liked Ginny and Tom. They help Molly along the way and she even helps them in some way as well. There is a hint of a budding romance between Tom and Molly but it never comes to anything more than friends as they each have dreams they want to accomplish outside of a relationship. I’m actually glad there wasn’t any big romance. I felt like it would have taken away from the overall theme and topics found in the plot.
The ending wasn’t anything I had expected and sometimes I wonder if it all makes sense. Parts of it were a bit rushed but because I liked everything else I overlooked it. I mean, anything is possible! I did like that there was an epilogue to give us a bit more as to what happened to the characters after the big reveal.
Now, if you do not like gruesome details then this book may not be for you. I did at times wonder what I got myself into, haha. On the other hand, it was hard to stop reading as well. The book does deal with a lot of dead bodies and the prospect of murder. It also has morbid jokes but also talks about how we should care for those that have died with the same care as though who are still living. My one big Content Warning would be that there is a scene that involves a dog which I skipped over. Other than that, there wasn’t anything I didn’t read.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read.