Saturday, January 27, 2018

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

Book Information:

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (May 21, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1594746168
ISBN-13: 978-1594746161
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About the Book:

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 a wild tale of fiction but could honestly have been real during the time period this is set in. Dr. Spencer Black grew up as the son of a grave robber, eventually making his way to the Academy of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. He speculates about there being scientific evidence proving that mythological animals existed and their existence was covered up. After he is shunned from the Academy of Medicine, Dr. Black uproots his family and joins the carnival.

He eventually becomes so obsessed with the possibility of their being creatures that were crosses between two types of animals (horses with wings, dogs with wings, etc.) that he began inhumane experimentation. Horrified, his wife tries to shut down the entire operation only to become a victim, herself. Just a note: Those like Dr. Spencer are why there are are ethical laws concerning the humane treatment of research animals. It is inhumane to cut wings off of a chicken and sew them onto horses, dogs, or other animals. Making fictional, mythological creatures out of animals in our day in age is beyond immoral.

The Resurrectionist is both intriguing and horrific. The fictional account of Dr. Black from the time he was a young boy through his disappearance provides enough information to understand what psychosis may have caused him to go off the deep end.  I was truly engaged in this gruesome account of a madman who takes his obsession with deformities to an awful and disturbing level, one of crazed and perverse enjoyment. I enjoyed the second part of the book with the anatomical drawings and descriptions of several types of mythological creatures. 

If you are looking for a fictional story based on the ramblings of a once esteemed doctor who plunges into the depths of depravity try your hand at The Resurrectionist. You will be equally disgusted and intrigued as you work your way through the story. When you reach the anatomical drawings of creatures within stories of mythology, be prepared to be amazed at the stories that come with each one. 

My Rating:

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