Friday, 6 February 2015

Review: The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber

Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister's estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.
Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage--a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn't about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl.
When Kiera and Gage's search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim...

So after my truly terrible experience with ‘Jackaby’, I was back to square one in my search for books like the ‘Lady Julia’ series by Deanna Raybourn. Until that is, I came across Angie’s review of ‘The Anatomist’sWife’ and without further ado I ordered it for the next day.

It is a very rare and utterly wonderful feeling to sink into a book and adore everything about it. To actually want to slow down your reading and savour the words. And then to discover that the book is the first in a series and there are several already published so you can continue to enjoy them at your leisure instead of the torturous wait of a year that new releases leave us with. ‘The Anatomist’s Wife’ gave me that feeling in spades. I haven’t felt so absorbed, captivated and enthralled by a book and savoured every page since I discovered ‘Silent in the Grave’ – and my love of that is well documented.

Everything about this book was perfection. I loved Kiera from the start. I loved her backstory that slowly came out – piece by terrible piece. I loved the setting, her family, the atmosphere of fear and terror that seeped into everything, and most of all I loved her tempestuous relationship with Gage. There are so many similarities with the ‘Lady Julia’ series, but not in a bad way, merely the time period, the subject matter and the intriguing and wonderful relationship between the heroine and the investigator involved.

The writing is sublime, the pacing wonderful and the slow climb of tension to the terrifying peak when all is revealed deftly handled. It is a quiet book, one that builds beautifully and is engaging and effecting. I loved that we were introduced to Kiera after the trauma and spectacle of her husbands death and the spectacle that followed. We find her at a point of exhaustion – everything is too much and beyond the capabilities of her recovering mind and spirit. And it was so wonderful to watch her come alive, to confront her past and her demons, to come to terms with it and be able to begin to heal, but also to be able to embrace what her past has taught her, and to begin to seize life again. And of course part of that was her relationship with Gage. I loved that she wasn’t afraid to stand up to him, she never succumbed to thinking he knew best – in fact to start with she is convinced that he has no real idea what he’s doing which was both amusing and brilliant to read. They are such a perfect pair and their friendship is tackled so wonderfully – another brilliant example of the slow burn and how effectively it can be utilised.

I cannot wait to read the rest of the series, one which is now a firm favourite based merely on this first book. I want to find out more about Kiera and see where her new found confidence and gumption takes her next, and of course, see her next meeting with the wonderful Mr Gage. This is a beautiful book, quiet, horrifying and at points genuinely terrifying. I savoured every page of it and cannot recommend it enough.


  1. Yes! So pleased to hear this worked for you, too, Rosy. I can't wait for the new one this summer. I need a little more Keira and Gage in my life.

    1. Thank you so much for putting me onto it! I loved it and I cannot wait for the new one in July!