Historical Horror Mystery YA Suspense YA

The Corpse Queen by Heather Herrman Review

The Corpse Queen is a dark and broody YA historical mystery/coming-of-age tale filled with death and dead bodies and is perfect for fans of Stalking Jack the Ripper.

When Molly Green’s pregnant best friend Kitty is found drowned (murdered) in a river, Molly’s entire life is turned upside down. Kitty’s death — the way her vestigial tale was removed with two surgical strokes — does not let her go. Then Molly discovers she’s no orphan after all when a long-lost relative from Philadelphia sends for her. It’s Molly’s aunt who is none other than the Corpse Queen — the head of a body-snatching syndicate that procures cadavers for medical students. It’s not entirely legal, and competition is fierce because medical cadavers for anatomy studies are in short supply.

Ava (Molly’s aunt) wants Molly’s help in return for a life of ease and riches. Molly is willing to help, though she doesn’t care about riches, only about discovering who’s killing girls with anomalies. And what better place to go hunting than among Philadelphia’s medical students. Main character Molly is a fierce female lead, rallying against the sexism rampant in the century.

“A body is the only way a woman can making a living in this world. I just choose not to use my own.”

The atmosphere is eerie and deeply atmospheric. The Corpse Queen is a story about death, so prepare for a YA suspense read that’s high on darkness and shocking twists. But it’s not all dead bodies. In a way, The Corpse Queen is also about rebirth, about Molly finding her identity.

What’s more to love: the slow-burn romance is delicious and addictive; the lushly descriptive setting lets you feel the dampness of a nighttime graveyard; the ending hints at a sequel (pretty, please).

Book: The Corpse Queen
Published: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Publication Date: September 14th, 2021
Age Range: 14 – 18
Stars: 4/5

Penguin Teen kindly sent me a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.


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