Hazel Sinnett is a medical student in 19th century Scotland who, after being kicked out because of her gender, works with new attractive acquaintance Jack Currer to procure dead bodies to study, but they soon discover secrets buried in the heart of Edinburgh society.
Schwartz’s magical novel is at once gripping and tender, and the intricate plot is engrossing as the reader tries to solve the mystery. She doesn’t miss a beat in either the characterization or action, scattering clues with a delicate, precise hand. This is, in the end, the story of the anatomy of the human heart.
With an elegantly macabre touch, Schwartz stitches a haunting romance with the gritty realities of corpse-related medical practices in 19th-century Edinburgh ... Though Hazel is all but engaged to her viscount cousin, her unlikely, secret friendship with Jack blossoms as delicately curated details decorate an intricately woven, unsettling plot that is occasionally overwhelmed by Hammer-like atmospherics.
The novel contains elements of mystery, horror, romance, and feminist historical fiction but unfortunately does not quite succeed at any. The science is only as accurate as the story requires. Hazel’s romance with her body-stealing companion is complicated by her long-standing betrothal to her boring cousin...who plays a minor villain role. Hazel treats the poor from her dungeon surgery and plans a takedown of medical patriarchy, which slows the unfolding of a mystery that is signaled in the prologue. The enjoyably creepy elements and grandstanding main villain are largely relegated to the final chapters. Characters default to White ... Unlikely to steal readers’ hearts.