Book review

The Bodysnatcher’s Apprentice is the story of William, lookout man for his bodysnatching uncle Bill ‘the bag’ Baines.

It is November 1825. The weather is cold, but the ground is not yet frozen, ideal conditions for the bodysnatching trade. Just days a before a young woman committed suicide by jumping into the Thames. At the Cross Bones burial ground in Red Cross Street, Southwark, Bill and his team are resurrecting her corpse to supply a distinguished surgeon across the river in Drury Lane. But this corpse is not what they expected: ‘She weren’t a common little dollymop’ like most of those buried at Cross Bones, and what William found on her body began a chain of events that would dramatically change his life.

The Bodysnatcher’s Apprentice presents a vivid picture of South London life and its squalor: the stinking burial grounds, the workhouses, the prisons, the prison hulks at Deptford. It shows the stark horror of the primitive surgery of the period. Not all is bleak and cheerless though; The Bodysnatcher’s Apprentice is a very funny book.

This is David Orme’s fourth Novel set in historical London; Plague, Fire and Blitz (Published by Evans Brothers) were written for younger readers; The Bodysnatcher’s Apprentice is written for all ages from teens to adults.

About the Author:


David Orme has been a full time writer for over 25 years, writing poetry, fiction and non-fiction for children, and resources for teachers. He has written over 300 books, many of which are available in translation around the world. His most recent book, Unlocking the Poet in every Child (Ransom Publishing) is the result of many years working with children and students in schools and colleges.

David has always had a fascination with the history of London and its burial grounds, and his website, londonburials.co.uk, is recognised as the leading resource on the subject. The Bodysnatcher’s Apprentice is based on this research.

The Bodysnatcher's Apprentice by David Orme

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