Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Book Review: 'The Resurrectionist' by E. B. Hudspeth

✰✰✰✰ Featuring two books in one beautiful hardcover, The Resurrectionist is both intriguing and beautifully grotesque at the same time. The first half of the book features the fictional biography of a man named Dr. Spencer Black. Spencer and his brother, Bernard, had a rather unusual upbringing. Having a father who was a respected professor of anatomy, the brothers often assisted him in digging up corpses for the dissections he performed for his students. Spencer grew up to attend medical school and attacked his studies with a passion. He excelled and had a promising career ahead of him. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way he is drawn into the darkness and becomes obsessed with genetic deformities. As he spiraled into insanity, Dr. Black theorized that deformities were not accidents, but rather the body's attempt to regrow what it once had eons ago. Around this time Dr. Black began experimenting with surgically recreating mythical beasts he believed once roamed the earth. He even went so far as to create a traveling carnival show of his creations.

Written in a style that incorporates some of Dr. Black's journal entries, poetry, and drawings, the biography abruptly ends with his disappearance adding to the mystery of the man. Nevertheless, the short biography sets up the tone for the second half of the book, The Codex Extinct Animalia. The codex features a brief introduction and anatomical drawings for eleven creatures shrouded in myth and legend including Sphinx Alatus, Minotaurus Asterion, and Canis Hades.

The Bottom Line: This gorgeous hardcover book is a keeper. I'm a big fan of books that are a bit different and dark; this one is definitely both. As I read it I was reminded of the anatomy and physiology texts I studied back in college. Having a basic knowledge of anatomy helped me appreciate the book even more. As other reviewers have mentioned, the text is somewhat lacking and repetitive in areas; however, I thought that may have been intentional since the main character is obviously mad. Hudspeth’s illustrations are fantastically macabre and spellbinding. Enthusiastically recommended for adult readers looking for something eccentric with a dark and disturbing twist. Also, recommended for those with an interest in mythology. This would make an interesting coffee table book to be sure. Note: Some sections describing Dr. Black's experiments are extremely disturbing. Additionally, due to the anatomical illustrations, this book is not recommended for sensitive readers or children.

Details: The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E. B. Hudspeth. Hardcover published by Quirk Books in 2013. 192 p. ISBN: 978-1-59474-616-1

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