FLESHMARKET was voted by Teen Titles as one of the best teenage novels of all time. Shortlisted for the North Lanarkshire Award and North East Book awards; winner of a Scottish Arts Council prize; cited as one of ALA Best Young Adult Books 2005; various other shortlistings
Published by Hodder in 2003.
About the book
Fleshmarket is set in the 1820s in Edinburgh, a city of cruel contrasts between the lives of the rich and poor, and home to the infamous Burke and Hare, who sold their murder victims to brilliant anatomist Dr Robert Knox. This is the often harrowing story of a boy who must survive the pain of his mother’s death at the hands of Doctor Knox.
Fleshmarket is probably my best-known book. Many schools use it as a class reader, partly because of the accurate and vivid portrayal of real life in Soctland in the gruesome 19th century, but mainly because it’s a story that so many young people seem to enjoy. It’s equally for boys and girls, but many boys who didn’t think they liked reading have changed their minds after Fleshmarket. That’s the best response I could possibly have wished for! If you’re studying Fleshmarket in school, do ask me any questions and if I visit your school I will tell you the real stories that inspired it.
The book begins with a woman having an operation without anaesthetic, in front of an audience of men, all medical students. She acts with extraordinary dignity and bravery. Outside the room, her eight-year-old son, Robbie, is waiting and he hears her scream and sees her walk from the room a little later, shocked, silent and in pain. The woman dies of blood-poisoning five days afterwards. Fleshmarket is the story of Robbie, who accidentally meets the surgeon six years later and overhears him dismissing the suffering of his patients. Robbie wants revenge. But the surgeon is Doctor Knox and what Doctor Knox has been doing is very dangerous indeed.
The Glasgow Herald: “This book grabs you and never lets you go.”
The Bookseller: “Outstanding … a book that deserves attention.”
The Sunday Telegraph: “A gripping and intelligent read.”
David Almond: “A dramatic and thought-provoking book. Nicola Morgan is a fine writer.”
The Guardian: “This is a tough thriller, a delicate love story and a powerfully evocative historical novel. …. Morgan is a confident, courageous and honest writer. Fleshmarket is a tour de force, from its attention-grabbing prologue onwards.”
Sunday Young Post: “Novel beginnings are seldom more dramatic or more grim than the first 10 pages of Nicola Morgan’s Fleshmarket. This is sweat-on-the-forehead stuff. In the startling introduction to her story, Morgan, an uncompromising writer who doesn’t believe in holding back, takes you straight to the painful centre of what is to follow and leaves you gasping. Fleshmarket is well and truly a book that thrills, but behind the rip-roaring plot there is a painful truth that none of us should ever forget. This is an important book that lives up to the expectations of its evocative title and dramatic cover. Stories don’t come any more powerful than this.”
Liv, aged 16: “This book is one of the very few on my list of favourites. It’s gripping, realistic, sad, exciting and historically accurate. Robbie is an amazing character that really pulls you in. Really is a GREAT READ.”