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24 September 2018 @ 12:25 am
My latest reading took me into The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth which caught my eye with it's cover and held my attention with it's odd and morbidly intriguing contents.

Summary on the back: 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?

My thoughts: I wasn't initially sure what this book was going to be like, and after finishing, I'm still not sure what to think of it, or even how to best describe it. I've never read anything even remotely similar so I'll give it points right away for that. Better described as a work of art instead of fiction, and both very strange and yet creative, unsettling and yet sometimes delightful, it's a weird blend of a fictional, but compellingly realistic tale presented as a true story, and an anatomical fantasy medical book with breathtaking illustrations. The first, novel half of the story reads as a biography rather than a work of fiction, and I couldn't decide whether I would have preferred it to be a more traditional story style, or whether I loved how the tone and mood of it made you completely suspend disbelief in a way most fantasy novels can't. Either way, the unflinching, creepy, and grotesque tale of a man's spiral into madness and hubris was very compelling, and the book captured the feel of Victorian sideshows and the medical world very well. The inlaid little details, notes, posters, and subtle nods to Frankenstein also added an authentic feel of reading an old book.

There was some animal harm and graphic moments I could have definitely done without - it's squarely in the horror genre, or at least very, very dark fantasy, so not for the squeamish, but the vast majority of it kept me turning pages without stopping. The second half of the book, featuring utterly gorgeous and detailed (those details!!!) drawings with a few musings on mythical beings, was stunning - honestly I loved it more than the actual story. The immersive nature of it all left me with my skin crawling and my imagination racing - and quite impressed with the author's skill on those illustrations!

Overall, The Resurrectionist was an unusual and haunting book that left me feeling like I had peeked into an 1800s curiosity cabinet and been both spooked and impressed by what I saw there.
feeling: gloomygloomy
jukebox: "Don't Sleep In the Subway"-Petula Clark