Review Blog

Oct 28 2010

The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher by Doug MacLeod

cover image

Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN 9780143203919, p/b, 303pp.
Highly recommended (for ages 14+). The title and cover of this novel are major attractions - one cannot resist picking it off the shelf and checking it out! Once the story begins, there is no thought of putting the book back on the shelf! Doug MacLeod has the reader hooked from the first page. Set in England in 1828, the opening pages take the reader at night to a ghostly cemetery where Thomas Timewell is digging up the corpse of his grandfather, buried only that day. He has good reason for doing this but is interrupted by the appearance of 'professional' body-snatcher. This is Plenitude and he offers to help Thomas with this grisly task.
There is much to discover about Plenitude and his life, and he has some amazing colleagues. Weaving through Thomas' story are fantastic characters as well - we meet his disoriented mother, the alcoholic housekeeper Mrs Greenough, his worldly 14 year old adopted brother John, his insecure school friend Charlie Callow, his obsessive teacher Mr Atkins, and the author of some ghastly popular fiction Mr Wilks who is not what he seems.
This is a clever black comedy full of gruesome and outrageous adventures.
Wildly imagined, the story keeps us reading! We are shown much of English society at the time - London at night, the prison system, class inequality and the publishing industry, plus plenty of body-snatching!  MacLeod's story is somewhat gross and confronting at times, but he cleverly balances this with humour and a strong sense of the importance of family, loyalty and friendship.
I invite you to check out Doug MacLeod's website too - it is a beauty.
This book should have a wide teenage audience - adults will love it too.
Julie Wells

BUY IT NOW ON booktopia
Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
International Children's Book Day 2nd April, 2017
CILIP Kate Greenaway Medals 2017 longlist
CILIP Carnegie Medal longlist 2017
Branford Boase Award 2017 longlist
Children's Book Award 2017 shortlist
Infographic: Teen reading habits
Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2017
Newbery and Caldecott Medals 2017
ALA awards 2017
Costa Children's Book Award 2016
National Simultaneous Storytime 2017

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2016
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Science fiction and fantasy lists SAETA conference 2015
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Books for boys
Bookmark and poster templates