The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher, by Doug MacLeod

‘You must think it strange that I’m digging up my grandfather.’
‘Not at all. I’m sure many young men dig up their grandfathers.’
‘It’s what he wanted.’
‘No doubt. You feel a great injustice has been done.’
I am surprised that he knows the innermost workings of my mind. ‘I do indeed.’
‘And you are here to make things right.’
I stop digging and look at him. ‘How do you know?’

It is 1828 and sixteen year old Thomas Timewell is digging up his grandfather’s body. For Thomas, this apparent crime is motivated only by the desire to see justice done. His grandfather’s dying wish was for his body to be donated to science, but Thomas’ mother has instead had him buried.

In the cemetery Thomas meets Plenitude, a body-snatcher, who steals corpses from their graves and sells them to hospitals in the dead of night. Plenitude drags Thomas into a series of dangerous adventures, digging up bodies and narrowly avoiding being killed themselves. At first reluctant, Thomas finds himself becoming an increasingly willing participant – and along the way finds love, and some surprising connections with Plenitude.

The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher is an absurdist historical novel starring schoolboy Thomas, his laudanum-crazed mother and a host of other amusing, crazy and frightening characters. With a serious side, too, it explores the conflicts that can occur when trying to do the right thing.

Likely to appeal to teens with an edgy sense of humour, this is an excellent read.

The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher

The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher, by Doug MacLeod
Penguin, 2010
ISBN 9780143203919

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.