Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth

208 pages
Published: May 21st 2013 
Publisher: Quirk Books
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5
Philadelphia, the late 1870s. A city of gas lamps, cobblestone streets, and horse-drawn carriages—and home to the controversial surgeon Dr. Spencer Black. The son of a grave robber, young Dr. Black studies at Philadelphia’s esteemed Academy of Medicine, where he develops an unconventional hypothesis: What if the world’s most celebrated mythological beasts—mermaids, minotaurs, and satyrs—were in fact the evolutionary ancestors of humankind?  The Resurrectionist offers two extraordinary books in one. The first is a fictional biography of Dr. Spencer Black, from a childhood spent exhuming corpses through his medical training, his travels with carnivals, and the mysterious disappearance at the end of his life. The second book is Black’s magnum opus: The Codex Extinct Animalia, a Gray’s Anatomy for mythological beasts—dragons, centaurs, Pegasus, Cerberus—all rendered in meticulously detailed anatomical illustrations. You need only look at these images to realize they are the work of a madman. The Resurrectionist tells his story.
The Resurrectionist is unlike anything I've ever read. It combines a fictional biography with a significant amount of illustrations based on Dr. Black's mythological beasts. This book is a super quick read and very beautiful. I didn't know what to expect when I started this stunning book but I didn't think I would end up loving it so much.

The biography part of it is very interesting and creepy. I'm an anthropologist so the concept really intrigued me. The author showcases Dr. Spencer Black's life in an almost textbook-like read. The doctor's evolution is both terrifying and gripping, which captivated me. The book is small enough that you'll read it quickly but you might want to spend a bit of time looking through the marvelous illustrations that make up the second half of the book. The Codex Extinct Animalia contains both illustrations and explanations of the various beasts Dr. Black believed in. They show the level of madness and creativity of the doctor and this adds a really interesting touch to the book. Overall, The Resurrectionist is a really cool book that reads like non-fiction with a touch of insanity.

* A huge thanks to Eric at Quirk Books for sending me this book! :) 
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