Deep in uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a forest. The shrine statues move, and anyone who crosses the border dies. But somewhere inside are cinchona trees, whose bark yields quinine: the only known treatment for malaria. By 1859 the hunt for a reliable source of quinine is critical and the India Office searches out its last qualified expeditionary, Merrick Tremayne. Against his own better judgement, Merrick finds himself dispatched to Bedlam under orders to bring back cinchona cuttings. As he travels into hostile territory, Merrick meets Raphael, a priest around whom the villagers spin impossible stories, and through him Merrick finally discovers a legacy that will prove more dangerous and valuable than the India Office could ever have imagined.
Natasha Pulley studied English Literature at Oxford University. After stints working at Waterstones as a bookseller, then at Cambridge University Press as a publishing assistant in the astronomy and maths departments, she did the Creative Writing MA at UEA. She later studied in Tokyo, where she lived on a scholarship from the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation. She was chosen to be a Writer in Residence at Gladstone's Library and is now associate lecturer at Bath Spa University and panel tutor at the Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education. Her first novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, was an international bestseller, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award. The Bedlam Stacks is her second novel. She lives in Bath.