Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Book Review | The Resurrectionist

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black
May 2013 by Quirk Books
208 pages
Amazon + Good Reads
3.5/5 stars
This book was sent to me by Quirk books! 

"Philadelphia, the late 1870's. A city of glass lamps, cobblestone streets, and horse-drawn carriages - and home to the controversial 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 evolutionary ancestors of humankind?

The Resurrectionist offers two extraordinary books in one. The first is a fictional biography of Dr. Spencer Black, from childhood spend 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."
-Good Reads
Click after the break for my review...

I was so incredibly stoked when I received The Resurrectionist - simply put, it is a beautiful and stunning book. The book is broken up into two sections - first, the  biography of the fictional anatomist, Dr. Spencer Black and second, a fictional Gray's Anatomy of sorts, filled with beautiful anatomical sketches of mythological creatures. The Codex Extinct Animalia speaks for itself - it is gorgeous. The sketches are professional and I was surprised by how accurate they were... well, as accurate as the skeletal structure of a harpy can be....

However, the biography of Dr. Spencer Black is what makes me hesitate about The Resurrectionist. At first, it was what I expected of any story regarding an anatomist and surgeon of the 1800's - grave digging and primitive dissections included. As Black's story progresses, he becomes a specialist in physical deformities and begins to believe that humans must be distant relatives of long extinct mythological creatures (i.e., webbed fingers or toes indicate a historical relation to mermaids). And this is where the story gets iffy. Obviously, Black is disillusioned and his fantastical notions are impossible to back up via science... and, in a desperate attempt to validate his theory, Black turns to really dark experiments....... (dun, dun, duuuun!)

Don't get me wrong, this story was riveting... but it was also incredibly disturbing and pretty gory at some points. At times, I found myself physically cringing... and I don't typically get grossed out that easily. I think that if I read The Resurrectionist closer to Halloween, I would have appreciated it a lot more but for now, I found it pretty disturbing.

If you're into dark story lines and can stomach some disturbing stuff, go ahead and pick up The Resurrectionist. I can guarantee that you will be blown away by the drawings. But, if you have a hard time stomaching gory images, I'd steer clear - this story probably won't sit well with you.

If you have a chance, look up some of the plates from The Resurrectionist - I'm curious to hear your thoughts!

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