The Corpse Queen by Heather M. Herrman | Book Review

It started out strong but lost me for a bit.

The Corpse Queen by Heather M. Herrman

Released September 2021

Source: Library Borrow

Goodreads  | Amazon

In this dark and twisty feminist historical thriller, a teenage girl starts a new life as a grave robber but quickly becomes entangled in a murderer's plans.

Soon after her best friend Kitty mysteriously dies, orphaned seventeen-year-old Molly Green is sent away to live with her "aunt." With no relations that she knows of, Molly assumes she has been sold as free domestic labor for the price of an extra donation in the church orphanage's coffers. Such a thing is not unheard of. There are only so many options for an unmarried girl in 1850s Philadelphia. Only, when Molly arrives, she discovers her aunt is very much real, exceedingly wealthy, and with secrets of her own. Secrets and wealth she intends to share--for a price.

Molly's estranged aunt Ava, has built her empire by robbing graves and selling the corpses to medical students who need bodies to practice surgical procedures. And she wants Molly to help her procure the corpses. As Molly learns her aunt's trade in the dead of night and explores the mansion by day, she is both horrified and deeply intrigued by the anatomy lessons held at the old church on her aunt's property. Enigmatic Doctor LaValle's lessons are a heady mixture of knowledge and power and Molly has never wanted anything more than to join his male-only group of students. But the cost of inclusion is steep and with a murderer loose in the city, the pursuit of power and opportunity becomes a deadly dance.

My 2 Cents for Free!

After her best friend is found dead, heartbroken and orphaned Molly is then sent away to live with an aunt. Molly hadn’t known about this aunt until now but there are reasons for that. When she arrives at this wealthy aunt’s home she’s immediately put to work. And the work is mighty strange (the title kind of gives it away though) but she goes with the flow and she’s good at the work.

This book is set in ye olden times back when women were second-class citizens and were expected to marry someone of their station and have a bunch of babies. Molly’s not about that. She wants to find her best friend’s murderer and later discovers her mission in life might just be becoming a surgeon but first she has to bring back a few (ok more than a few) corpses for her aunt’s enterprise.

I was really enjoying this book. It was weird and mysterious and took some wild turns and Molly was exceptionally clever but somewhere along the way it just got a little boring for me and stayed that way for a really long stretch. It’s a murder mystery but at times it wasn’t very thrilling because the pacing was super slow pokey until near the end.

I liked it enough to keep going on audio but I may have put it down unfinished had I been reading it in paper. It’s not a book I’d read again but I definitely didn’t hate it. Grab it on audio, if you can, because the narration is lovely.



  1. Molly sounds like a great character. Too bad the story starts to drag. Slow pacing makes it hard for me to finish a book these days.

    1. Yep, it makes it difficult to want to pick it back up.

  2. What a horrible way to make a living, grave robbing.


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