the corpse queen arc review! // body-snatching, murder, and feminism

Can we just appreicate the fact that I am listening to the Mulan soundtrack and A Girl Worth Fighting For came on as I was writing the title. What lyrics played while I was writing the word feminism? Behold: “Uh, how ’bout a girl who’s got a brain, Who always speaks her mind?” And then as I finished writing the word, they all went “NAH”. So yes, that’s the chaotic and irrelevant introduction you have all come to expect from yours truly. Now onto the book!

TW/CW: murder, tooth pulling, loss of a child, body parts, graphic birth scene

After her best friend’s untimely death, Molly is whisked away from the nunnery where she lives to join her aunt in eighteenth-century Philiadelphia. Little does she know, her aunt is involved in the business of procuring bodies for medical students. As Molly settles into her new life, she’s forced to come to many realizations. One of them? There’s a killer stalking girls on the streets, and Molly intends to find out who.

Reviews are hard so please forgive me in advance. The Corpse Queen is an interesting read because on the one hand, I really enjoyed aspects of it. On the other hand, my expectations were thrown out the window and trampled by a carriage. Very saddening stuff.

I really loved the dark atmosphere of the Philadelphia streets! When Molly is pulled into her aunt’s body-snatching business, she does a lot of works by night. It was so interesting see how the whole “body black market” worked because it wasn’t really grave-robbing. There were so many intricacies to obtaining a body for medical students to practice on, and so much moral ambiguity, that it makes me want to do actual research. For fun. That’s how good of a job this book did at immersing me into this world.

And the women in this book! Despite all of the sexism (because yikes history), Molly stands up for herself. In fact, Molly’s aunt is the one making a name for herself, and many of Molly’s friends are just great people. At first, I wasn’t totally sold on the romance in this book. But it actually ended up being such a fantastic sign of Molly’s character arc, and what a healthy relationship based on mutual trust should look like. So I really enjoyed that!

The thing that brought down my personal rating for this book is honestly unsurprising. I’m extremely picky when it comes to YA mysteries because there’s rarely enough mystery for my tastes*. While there was a killer in the streets, that wasn’t the main focus of the book. No, the main focus was Molly’s character arc, turning this story into more of a coming-of-age drama than a mystery. That isn’t necessarily bad, it simply threw my expectations a little.

*look if it’s being pitched as a mystery i want the MYSTERY. i want INVESTIGATING. if you go two full chapters with little happening in the way of it, i am an angry bumblebee vampire. yes, we exist, and no, i will not be taking questions.

I’ll be honest: I didn’t see the ending coming. I love when there’s multiple plot twists hidden behind layers upon layers. The climax was a little bumpy but overall pretty well-written. This definitely reminded me of Stalking Jack the Ripper with the combination of atmosphere and historical mystery!

So that’s it! Are you excited for this book? What are your thoughts on historical mysteries?

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