The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth is two books in one. The first half is the fictional memoir of Doctor Spencer Black. The second half is an anatomy of mythological creatures.
Within the first section of this book, Doctor Spencer Black recites his life from childhood. Here, the reader learns about the profession of the resurrectionist, or grave robbers, of the mid-nineteenth century. Black’s father was a resurrectionist, a profession that haunted Black from the age of a young boy. As a medical student and doctor, Spencer Black theorizes about the evolution of the human being. In his speculations, Black develops a certainty that our ancestors shared traits with ancient mythological creatures. He determines that perhaps creatures of mythology were once real. In time, his ideas of human evolvement forces Black out of the mainstream medical community and into the world of carnivals and side shows.
The images filling the anatomy section of The Resurrectionist are on par with the detailed depictions of human anatomy in medical studies. Here, one expects Hudspeth spent a great amount of time studying both the anatomy of humans as well as various animals to create drawings that seem to depict real creatures, despite their mythical standing. Detailed drawings depict hybrid-humans such as the Harpy, a winged bird woman, or the Minotaur, a creature that is part bull and part man. Through Hudspeth’s drawings, one could imagine that the winged horse, Pegasus, actually existed and was capable of flight.
The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth defies classification as just one type of book. This is dark fantasy in the style of Edgar Allan Poe, Marry Shelley, and Bram Stoker. The Resurrectionist grazes the history of nineteenth century medical training and practices. It is a look at the traveling carnival and freak shows at the later end of the nineteenth century. It is an anatomy of creatures that never existed, yet the drawings are so detailed that one would expect Doctor Spencer Black to have personally dissected each one in order to understand and document each mythological creature. Hudspeth’s The Resurrectionist is an interesting, strange and intriguing work of fiction. Although this is not a children’s book, a mature pre-teen interested in mythology might find some interest within these pages.
Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Quirk Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.