Nominated by:

Saint John Free Public Library, Canada

Publisher of nominated edition:

Goose Lane Editions, USA

Will Starling

Ian Weir      

2016 Longlist

The great metropolis of London swaggers with Regency abandon as nineteen-year-old Will Starling returns from the Napoleonic Wars having spent five years assisting a military surgeon. Charming, brash, and damaged, Will is helping his mentor build a medical practice — and a life — in the rough Cripplegate area. To do so requires an alliance with the Doomsday Men: body snatchers that supply surgeons and anatomists with human cadavers.

After a grave robbing goes terribly awry and a prostitute is accused of murder, Will becomes convinced of an unholy conspiracy that traces its way back to Dionysus Atherton, the brightest of London’s rising surgical stars. Wild rumours begin to spread of experiments upon the living and of uncanny sightings in London’s dark streets.

Will’s obsessive search for the truth twists through alleyways, brothels, and charnel houses, towards a shattering discovery — about Dionysus Atherton and about Will, himself.

Steeped in scientific lore, laced with dark humour, Will Starling is historical fiction like none other.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Ian Weir is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and novelist. His first novel, Daniel O’Thunder, was named one of the top historical novels of 2011 by Library Journal. He has written more than 150 episodes for nearly two dozen television series. His stage plays have been produced across Canada, as well as in the U.S. and England. Ian lives near Vancouver, with his wife Jude and their daughter Amy. His passionate vocation as a historical novelist takes him frequently to London, which has remained his favourite city ever since he fell in love with it as a graduate student at King’s College.

Librarian’s Comments

Will Starling has been acclaimed by both reviewers and general readers as one of 2014’s most engaging novels. Ian Weir’s deft play with the characters and the narrative is technically dazzling but also “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” (Globe and Mail). Plot and characters invisibly supported by meticulous research and Weir’s astounding ear for dialect and idiom place this novel with the best historical fiction. Darker themes provide appropriate weight to this rollicking tour de force.

Related Entries