Will Starling

London, 1816. Romanticism is at the high tide and the metropolis is swaggering with Regency abandon. Edmund Kean is revolutionizing the theatre while setting new benchmarks in debauchery, Byron is inventing the cult of celebrity, and scientific discovery is advancing with great dizzying leaps into wild and uncharted terrain.

Young Will Starling – charmer, confabulist and aspiring Rainbow – has returned after five long years on the Continent assisting in battlefield surgeries. Now he and his mentor are struggling to build a civilian practice – and a life – two floors above a gin shop in Cripplegate. This requires an uneasy alliance with the Doomsday Men, grave robbers who supply London’s surgeons and anatomists with the fresh cadavers that are essential for research. When a bungled body-snatching leads to murder – and worse – Will grows convinced that an unholy conspiracy is at work, and that its author is Dionysus Atherton, the brightest of London’s emerging surgical stars.

Soon the news sheets are a-twitter with lurid reports: medical experiments gone horribly wrong and uncanny sightings in the streets. Rumours of experimentation upon corpses not quite dead – indeed, upon corpses wide awake and wailing – in a bid to unlock the greatest Secret of all. And as Will’s investigation winds through London’s underbelly, his certainty darkens into something else: obsession. Because Will has secrets of his own.

Steeped in scientific lore, Will Starling is a tale of love and redemption, death and resurrection.

In the US? Look for Will Starling on indiebound.
Find Will Starling online: Chapters.Indigo.ca, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.com.

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“Reading Will Starling is a delight, though not in the way readers might expect at the outset. Weir’s deft play with the characters and the narrative serves to unsettle and disturb, resulting in a novel that is at once rewarding and heartbreaking, satisfying on both intellectual and emotional levels….A splendid literary achievement, and a genuine pleasure.” – The Globe and Mail

“…A rollicking good yarn with many twists and turns….Will Starling is a kaleidoscope of beautiful ghastliness. It’s a lot of fun and a tale well told.” –The Vancouver Sun

“Through the stock-taking and impassioned confession-like recollections of ‘pointed and stunted’ but earnest young surgeon’s assistant Will Starling, Ian Weir (author of 2010’s Daniel O’Thunder) crafts a wonderfully, thrillingly fun—if truly smelly and gross—romp….The cadaver trade, slit throats, stabbings, cudgelings, bodies dangling from nooses, a villainous, hubristic surgeon named Dionysus Atherton, Resurrection Men, Doomsday Men, and the Boggle-Eyed Man, unholy scientific exploration, a could-be zombie, a deranged housekeeper hooked on laudanum, and a clockwork of machinations fill Will’s clever and masterfully told “lurid tale.” –The Winnipeg Review

“Weir’s lauded first novel, Daniel O’Thunder, was set in a rough, tough part of London in 1851. In his second, we’re in 1816 Regency London, and young Will, back from the Napoleonic war on the continent, is engaged in setting up a clinic in London’s dodgy Cripplegate. Weir, the creator of CBC’s Arctic Air, has written a note-perfect historical novel of body snatching, murder and evil fun.” –The Toronto Star

“Like the boy who gives the book its name, Will Starling is quick on its feet, and takes pride in always staying one step ahead of whoever it’s telling its story to….Weir has plenty more up his sleeve – not least of all a crackerjack lexicon of cobbled-together Georgian slang – to keep the material elevated well above a mere page-turner….Weir’s writing is so springy, and his vision so panoramic, that you won’t care that the novel makes you feel as though you’ve got dirt under your fingernails just from reading it. Yet amid the muck, Will Starling also presents a ringing and surprisingly touching endorsement of science over legend and anecdote.” The National Post

“Framing the mystery within Weir’s novel is an extraordinary rendition of life in Regency-era London….Characters rollick and scheme through a plot as snaky as a London alley in a setting as powerful as a chamber pot tossed from a garret window. No happy tale this, but Starling’s adventures among the Spavined Clerk, the Wreck of Tom Sheldrake, Boggle-Eyed Bob and Alf the Ale-Draper are a delight all the same. What Dickens might have written had he set loose Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll to explore the doomsday trade.” Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Starling is a charismatic, engaging narrator, and his personal connection to Atherton frames an underlying story of redemption and the legacy of ultimate power. A fascinating, well-researched exploration of surgery’s shift from disreputable butchery to medical science, shot through with an irresistible Frankenstein current.” Booklist

"Weir's magnificent new novel...is a sumptuous Frankensteinian potboiler of knockabout slang, scientific lore, rollicking personalities and atmosphere thick as fog. Weir's gift with idiom is without peer; as his narrative gambols about, the deft wordplay breathes grimy life into a wretched London. While its themes of death, scientific perversion, classism and poverty may be dark as pitch, Weir's style and wite ensures the novel remains a boisterous, subversive romp." –Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

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“Mighty swinging bollocks, what a book! Will Starling drops you straight into the heart of London in the year 1816, detailing the sights, sounds, and smells (oh, the smells!) with an anatomist’s eye for detail. Ian Weir’s crackerjack novel is many things: a whodunit, a penny dreadful, a scrupulous historical narrative—but most of all and most simply, it is a rollicking, fireballing, big-hearted book that’s just a hell of a lot of fun to read. And by thunder, what more can a reader ask for?”
--Craig Davidson, author of Cataract City

“I know of no one else in Canada today who writes like Ian Weir. Will Starling is a rollicking romp through the English language, an earthy, bawdy, brain-bending delight.”
--Annabel Lyon, author of The Sweet Girl

“Will Starling is a sly, spirited hero who leaps off the page to take you on a riveting journey through London’s glorious, hair-raising underbelly – surgeons’ salons, gin shops, and the puzzle of Death itself – and straight into the nature of storytelling.  Weir’s prose is both raw and lyrical; his evocation of Regency London, magnificent.  Will Starling is a must read.”
--Stacy Carlson, author of Among the Wonderful

“Ian Weir has an uncanny ear for the earthy slang of Regency London. His characters are as engaging as the Artful Dodger or Fagin or Martin Chuzzlewit.”
--Roberta Rich, author of The Harem Midwife