Expedition into the unknown
Crippled while working as an opium smuggler for his own government, Merrick Tremayne’s infirmity has become his excuse to retreat from life and retire to his crumbling home in Victorian-era Cornwall. Disabled and destitute, Merrick is perplexed when his former employers approach him with a mission to locate the source of another drug: a malarial cure found in the bark of Peruvian trees. Although previous expeditions failed to return, Merrick has nothing left to lose and so accepts the job.
Under the guise of botanist explorers, Merrick and his partner embark on a dangerous mission to locate the hidden trees and steal cuttings for the crown. They are assigned a local guide, Raphael, but as they climb into the Peruvian highlands, Raphael begins to reveal his own deeper connections to their destination.
Raphael leads them to the remote mountain enclave of Bedlam, where luminous pollen powers clockwork lamps, rare woods have explosive potential, and a salt line is literally the border between life and death. Adding to the exotic mysteries of Bedlam are lifelike statues posted along the forest boundary. These ancient figures move in eerie response to villagers who regard them with religious reverence. Navigating not only his own physical limitations but also Raphael’s mysterious connection to the statues, Merrick races to reconcile the mystical aspects of his quest before he reaches the point of no return.
Natasha Pulley’s captivating landscape unfolds slowly, her exquisitely crafted prose illuminating magical elements moving just at the edge of perception. The pace allows readers to probe Bedlam’s secrets and carefully pierce the boundaries between safety and savagery. Loosely connected to the world of her bestselling The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, The Bedlam Stacks is a lyrical paean to the power of transformation, faith and friendship.