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The Bedlam Stacks

Narrated by: David Thorpe
Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

Non-member price: $28.46

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Publisher's Summary

An astonishing historical novel set in the shadowy, magical forests of South America, which draws on the captivating world of the international best seller The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

Deep in uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a forest. The shrine statues move, and anyone who crosses the border dies. But somewhere inside are cinchona trees, whose bark yields quinine: the only known treatment for malaria.

On the other side of the Pacific, it is 1859, and India is ravaged by the disease. The hunt for a reliable source of quinine is critical, and in its desperation the India Office searches out its last qualified expeditionary. Struggling with a terrible injury from his last mission and the strange occurrences at his family's ruined estate, Merrick Tremayne finds himself under orders to bring back cinchona cuttings at any cost and dispatched, against his own better judgment, to Bedlam.

There he meets Raphael, a priest around whom the villagers spin unsettlingly familiar stories of impossible disappearances and living stone. Gradually Tremayne realises that Raphael is the key to a legacy left by two generations of Tremayne explorers before him, one which will prove more dangerous and valuable than the India Office could ever have imagined.

©2017 Natasha Pulley (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Assured and absorbing...immensely pleasurable reading. Pulley's prose is strong and energetic, with a wry edge, and even the most minor characters are drawn precisely.... Intricate, charming and altogether surprising." (The New York Times book review on The Watchmaker of Filigree Street)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Enjoyable

Little slow to start but the characters are engaging and turned into a great read.
Narrator did an excellent job.
will definitely read another by this author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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mystical

Rich imagery of a possible world... The statues were like guardians of a hidden realm

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful and haunting!

Oh wow I loved this! This book is so atmospheric and despite the fact that a lot actually happens in it, it feels like a quiet book. I loved the main character and the narrator did a fantastic job.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Slow and tedious

Didn't grip me, neither the story or the performance. Characters were dull and the created world, unconvincing.

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  • just asking for some common sense
  • 27-08-2017

Just enough magic here!

This is the second book I've listened to by Natasha Pulley. I love this book. There is a fantasy element, but it is brought out slowly, almost as a mystery of its own. She's very good at world building here, with just enough reality to keep the whole story cohesive.

I'm eagerly awaiting her next book!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mysti van Hoose
  • 24-07-2017

More please!!

I am thoroughly hooked by Ms Pulley's writing style! I'm addicted to her characters and the quirky nature they all have! I've read both of her books and can't wait to see what her future books hold! I am restarting Filigree Street now and will redo Bedlam as soon as I'm done!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Gail N.
  • 13-01-2019

A fevered dream

In reviewing this book, I was thinking about why I like to listen to books. Entertainment, education, insight into the human condition, the pleasure of a pleasant human voice, the delight of well written prose, relaxation and distraction from day to day cares came to mind. In almost all areas, this book disappointed me. The story starts off rather abruptly with the lead character having a tree crash on the roof over his attic apartment. And for the first third of the book, I enjoyed "The Bedlam Stacks". There are hints of magical realism, but the dog Gulliver lends a sense of comfort and reassurance that all is more or less well. And even here, improbable characters pop out of nowhere. However, once the hero and his associate start the descent from the summit of the Andes into the New Bethlehem valley below, the story also descends into a feeling of insanity and horror; the dream turns into a nightmare. Unlike "Through the Looking Glass" where Alice keeps her sense of logic and reality about her, the main characters here offer no respite from the magical dysfunction surrounding them. It is like a Gothic horror fantasy tale from which you, the listener, want to escape. This was one story which gave me no pleasure and which therefore was not worth my time and so I gave up well before the half-way mark.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • BobPan
  • 30-11-2017

Terrific read!

Unusual storyline, engaging and occasionally funny interactions; a truly unique and magical reading experience! You won't regret using your credits on this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-10-2018

Great Book. Amazing Narrator.

I was in love with this book from start to finish. I don't think they could have picked a more perfect narrator either. He did a splendid job bringing the characters to life.

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  • Michele Andres
  • 13-08-2017

delightful book

looking forward to the third book. many delightful surprises. Natasha Pulleys story's are like nothing I've ever read before.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Erica
  • 06-01-2018

Enchanting in a weird way

The book was enchanting in it’s own bit weird way. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and at times slow pace.

Only thing disturbing at times was the changes in the volume of the reader’s voice. Surrounding noises made it hard to hear the bit whispered.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Ms. G. A. Sykes
  • 11-06-2018

17 hours of my life I'll never get back

I'd give The Watchmaker of Filigree Street 3.5/5 - but in this case the use of whimsy to cover up holes in logic and indeed in plot were too much to pardon. The book never really got going and never really went anywhere. Just endless descriptions of jungle, bizarre columns of glass and phosphorescent pollen. Clearly a lot of research had gone into the book but this didn't make up for the lack of plot. Also, the attempt at weaving in a character from the previous novel was clumsy at best: it was as though the author was attempting David Mitchell style allusion but it falls sadly flat.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 17-08-2017

Most enjoyable.

I found this a little difficult to begin with. in the opening chapters, where Merrick is suffering the effects of altitude sickness, I almost felt that I was, too. Something about the style of the narration made it hard to follow. Later on it became easier. As the story unfolded it was nice that we revisited Kata, the watchmaker.

I particularly like the almost romantic nature of the relationship between Raphael and Harry, which was continued with Merrick.

I've enjoyed both of Natasha Pulley's books so far. I hope to hear more.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • mollyeyre
  • 04-08-2017

Absolutely blown away by this

I thoroughly enjoyed the Watchmaker, and was really pleased to be able to read the second of Natasha Pulley's books. I love Natasha Pulley's way of writing - her characters are so likeable they almost become part of the family, apart from the rotten ones ...... of course.
The story was quite complicated but so very well put together it has kept my attention thoroughly. David Thorpe narrated very well - I know some commentators have not liked him much - but I thought he was first class and absolutely right for the story.
A wonderful trip to Peru with such interesting people, stories and consequences. BRILLIANT

I was also delighted to meet 'Katar', (Sorry - I have no idea how it is spelled, the Watchmaker), in his earlier life.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Ms. L. MA
  • 27-07-2017

Another excellent story from Natasha Pulley

If you enjoyed The Watchmaker of Filigree Street you are in for a real treat. The story is unusual, unexpected and full of magic and intimations of love. The Watchmaker appears as a young man too! The reader is good, but a little too ebullient for me in places, although he was excellent in Shtum.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • claire
  • 28-07-2017

Wonderful story and took me back to my travels in Peru

Great story, unusual and original . I have travelled throughout south america and spent time in Peru. The description of the landscape and architecture/historic ruins are very accurate and written by someone who had travelled there, I am sure.

The story itself is a beautifully balanced cocktail of history , local spirituality and beliefs , reminders of old fashioned prejudice and our historic influence on the world , as well as being a story about human compassion , friendship and at times a look at how we could act in desperation . A story of history, friendship, judgment, magic and spiritual beliefs..... listen and you will be enthralled and sad when it ends !!!

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • A. E. Wright
  • 21-07-2017

An excellent second novel

Natasha Pulley has an idiosyncratic writing style which sometimes borders on the staccato in the way sentences and utterances are presented. It takes a bit of getting used to but I for one have grown to like it.
This is Natasha's second novel and is a strange but totally absorbing tale, set mainly in South America, which definitely requires the reader to suspend disbelief in order to take in glowing pollen, moving statues, columns of glass and a village with unusual customs and taboos.
Best of all was the appearance, as a somewhat minor character this time, of a young Keita Mori who will be familiar to those who have read this author's previous novel 'The Watchmaker of Filigree Street'. I for one would be very pleased if a third novel were to concern itself with more about Mori, who I must say I find most endearing.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Mikey
  • 15-07-2017

Intriguingly enchanting

Any additional comments?

This book is a historical yet spellbinding journey about a group of smugglers sent on a journey to obtain the purest form of malaria antidote-medicine from the 18th century Peruvian quinine trees found deep within the mountains.

I was excited and enthralled when I learned that the reason a small group of highly skilled smugglers are needed to obtain the quinine, was due to the quinine trees being guarded and protected by cartel-like criminals. In this regard, the story reminded me of many SAS operations I've read about, whereby soldiers covertly penetrated such factions that were guarding drug factories hidden deep within the jungles of South America.

The difference here of course, there is nothing covert about this storyline. As the story unfolds we learn that there is indeed an ulterior motive and far more sinister developments are underway. Oh and something else the SAS didn't have to deal with: sorcery.

The leading character is a priest with a good heart but has a thirst for adventure anda longing to find out the truth behind these sinister goings on. Is it really magic, or just a trick to protect the valuable merchandise?

The book is beautifully written and expertly told by one of my favourite narrators. Allow yourself to succumb to the magic of this storyline and you are sure to be swept away with as much delight as I was!

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Grace Simms
  • 27-07-2017

so quiet!

great follow up to the watchmaker and the narrator is good but for some reason it's really quiet compared to every other audiobook I've ever bought, at full volume I couldn't hear it if I was walking down a busy road or on the tube.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • BBMM
  • 28-07-2017

Great writing, great narration

Author has created intriguing narrative aided by accomplished and unobtrusive characterisation by the narrator. More from both please.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful