Historical Fiction

The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh

I heard about this book when it first came out in March and added it to by TBR list. I really liked the idea of reading from the perspective of a female medical student from the 1890s, a very unheard of phenomenon back in the day. I also just love a good historical murder mystery. Here is my review:

Leaving behind London society after a scandal, Sarah Gilchrist has joined the University of Edinburgh’s medical school. This is the first year that the university has admitted women and Sarah is determined to become a doctor, despite the misgivings of her family and society. However, there are many barriers at the school itself: professors who refuse to teach their new pupils, male students determined to force out their female counterparts, and her female peers who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman. Desperate to get some training, Sarah begins to volunteer at the St. Giles’ Infirmary for Women, a charitable hospital for those who have nowhere else to go. Sarah enjoys her time volunteering there, even when the environment is grim. But when Lucy, one of Sarah’s patients, turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into a murky underworld of bribery, brothels, and body snatchers. Sarah is determined to find out what happened to Lucy and bring those responsible for her death to justice. But as she searches for answers, Sarah comes closer and closer to uncovering one of Edinburgh’s most lucrative trades, and, in doing so, puts her own life at risk…

I quite enjoyed this novel, with its fierce heroine! This is a well paced novel with a great deal of suspense and mystery that kept me enthralled from start to finish. I thought the author had done a great job in researching details of life in the 1890s, especially in terms of the rights (or lack thereof) for women, the cultural norms of the times, and the medical procedures that were popular at the time. There were times, I will admit, where I grew weary of Sarah’s constant complaints about the injustices women faced. It’s not that this wasn’t relevant or important; however, there came a time when the point had been made and I just wanted the story to move along. That being said, the mystery itself was interesting. There were many different clues and avenues that the story took to get to its conclusion, and I quite liked all of these twists and turns. I thought the mystery was well planned out and executed and the conclusion was enjoyable. However, character development was another weak point in this novel: while some of the other characters showed growth throughout the story, Sarah did not. This feeling of lack of growth might have been because of her constant complaints but it just felt like Sarah remained the same throughout the novel, and I would have liked to see her change through her experiences. Overall, this was a compelling and engaging read that I really enjoyed, with a good amount of historical detail and a strong heroine. I’ve heard that there will be a sequel to this novel, and I look forward to reading it when it comes out (February 2019)! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

Leave a Reply