Review: The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black

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

Published May 21st 2013 by Quirk Books

Hardcover, 208 pages

Source: Publisher for review

15799400

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.

This was a crazy book – and I often really like crazy books!  This was a really, really fast read as the actual story of Dr. Spencer Black was less than 100 pages.  I was intrigued by Dr. Black and his whacked out story – but I feel like I just read a novella more than a BOOK.  Dr. Black goes down a scary road from investigating birth defects to chasing tales of mythical creatures and even trying to create his own.  From the size of this striking hardcover I just expected a lot more.  I enjoyed the fictional biography as it was, but I would have really been into a lot more detail about Dr. Black and his poor family so I’m a bit bummed this was so short.  I know the ending was meant to be a mystery – but I want to know more!

Clearly so much work went into this book.  The illustrations in the Index are really cool – The Siren, Cerebus or the Canis Hades, and the Pegasus to name a few.  These were really amazing to flip through.  Looking at the illustrations definitely left me wondering about what the history of the mythical creatures could have been.  But in the end I would have loved more story about Dr. Black and even the mythical creatures versus pages of drawings.  This was an impressive read just for being so different and I’d recommend reading it because of that, just know what you’re getting into.   I would also check out anything else Hudspeth publishes because this was obviously a product of a lot of love and work!

3 stars

Thank you Quirk Books for this copy in exchange for an honest review!

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