I have this book in hardcover and I tried to share it here with yall, but it’s such a thin book that it was looking flat. I tried a bunch of tricks, but it still wasn’t looking multi-dimensional, so I’ve decided just to share the internet photo of it. Let’s get to my review.
I’m not sure how I initially came across this book, but it was in my wishlist when my daughter bought this for me for my birthday. I love a quirky read, and this fits the bill. The illustrations are stunning, and I love how in-depth Hudspeth has gone in detailing these fictional creatures. I imagine it took quite a bit of time and research to prepare each of the illustrations. Those pictures make up the second half of the book. The first half is the story of Spencer Black; the man said to have drawn these images. The story is engaging, and the lengths Black goes to further his craft get more horrifying by the page. As we’re watching Black’s descent further into his craft, we see through his letters to his brother his unraveling, how he signed each letter differently, which I feel is a subtle way to show the unraveling.
But alas, as we’re a mere 60 some odd pages in, the story ends so very unsatisfyingly that I feel a bit cheated. If the book were more recent, I would be inclined to believe there would be more to come. But after scouring around the author’s website and social media, it appears he isn’t active online anymore. This lends to my belief that what we got is what we get, and we have to begrudgingly accept that the story just ends with no sort of reward, which is so very disappointing. The redeeming aspect, and the reason I’m giving it 4-stars, is the story until that point is well-crafted and well-researched, and as stated above, the illustrations are fantastic. Overall, I have mixed feelings, but still an enjoyable read.
These are a few of my favorite illustrations from the book:
About the Book:
An extraordinary biography. A gallery of astonishing work. The legacy of a madman.
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.