Synopses & Reviews
The Kingdom of Bones
is the haunting story of Tom Sayers, a former boxing champion who must continue to fight to clear his name after a series of gruesome murders, for the heart and soul of a leading lady, and to uncover the truth behind a legend as old as evil itself.
Wrongly accused of the slaughter of pauper children in the wake of the touring theater company he manages, Tom Sayers is forced to disappear into a twilight world of music halls and traveling boxing booths. Beginning with a chance encounter in a Philadelphia pleasure park one weekend in 1903, this brilliantly macabre mystery traces Sayers' journey from England's provincial playhouses through London's mighty Lyceum Theatre and on to the high society of a transforming American South with many a secret to be uncovered in the dark alleyways, backstage areas, and houses of ill repute that lie along the way.
As Sayers seeks the truth behind the killings, he is pursued in turn by the tireless Detective Inspector Sebastian Becker. Desperate to ensure the safety of actress Louise Porter, Sayers calls on an old friend, Bram Stoker, for help. But Stoker's links with the world of the Victorian occult lead Sayers to discover a danger even greater than he could have imagined.
Thrown into a maelstrom of obsession, betrayal, and sacrifice where even the pure may not escape damnation Sayers must face the implications of an unthinkable bargain: the exchange of a soul for a chance at eternal life.
With action that spans continents, decades, and every level of society, The Kingdom of Bones follows the troubled lives of those touched by Tom Sayers, ultimately weaving their stories into a harrowing climax that stirs the mind and the blood.
"Set mainly in late 19th-century England, Gallagher's ingenious horror thriller revolves around the extraordinary life and death of Tom Sayers, a real-life bare-knuckle fighter who, after retiring, briefly traveled the country staging reenactments of his most memorable bouts. While working as a manager for a touring theatrical company, Sayers falls in love with the troupe's leading lady, 22-year-old Louise Porter, who unfortunately doesn't share his feelings. Sayers also becomes the prime suspect in a series of mutilation murders and, while barely evading arrest, embarks on a quest to save Porter, who's become hopelessly entangled in an all-too-real occult legend. Bram Stoker and Aleister Crowley play minor roles. Combining the meticulous historical detail of Caleb Carr's The Alienist with gothic mysticism and Christian mythology, Gallagher (The Painted Bride) delivers a nicely macabre blend of fact and fiction." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] moody, gripping period thriller....Gallagher skillfully weaves together vampire myths and the theatrical world of late Victorian England....Dark but splendid entertainment." Kirkus Reviews
"The Kingdom of Bones' Gilded Age period detail includes some melodramatic prose...and dodgy occult lore. But Gallagher includes gripping set-pieces bare-knuckle bouts, exquisite kink to produce an affecting study of sado-masochistic desire. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly
"Beautifully written and tenderly portrayed with a depth not often found in thrillers, The Kingdom of Bones melds history and mystery for a spectacular result." BookReporter
"[S]hows the occult mystery in its best light....Although Gallagher delivers horror with a grand melodramatic flourish, his storytelling skills are more subtly displayed in scenes of the provincial theaters, gentlemen's sporting clubs and amusement parks where a now-vanished society once took its rough pleasures." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"Gallagher's treatment of Stoker seems fair to real-life accounts of him. Having him lumber along also adds literary richness to a story that moves a little too much like a modern thriller despite the weight of its Victorian clothing." The Los Angeles Times
In the twilight world of music halls, boxing rings, and traveling theatrical shows of the 19th century, a man accused of a series of gruesome murders struggles to clear his name and save his soul.
About the Author
Stephen Gallagher is a novelist, screenwriter, and director. He is the author of fourteen novels, including Nightmare, with Angel; Red, Red Robin; and The Spirit Box. He lives in England.