Excerpt Taken From Quirk Books Product Detail Page:Philadelphia. The late 1870s. A city of cobblestone sidewalks and horse-drawn carriages. Home to the famous anatomist and surgeon Dr. Spencer Black. The son of a “resurrectionist” (aka grave robber), Dr. Black studied 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 his humble beginnings to 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 black-and-white anatomical illustrations. You need only look at these images to realize they are the work of a madman. The Resurrectionist tells his story.
Quirk Books has always excelled in publishing some of the quirkiest books out there, as the name of this awesome indie publisher's name aptly suggests. What is the novelty, or more appropriately, quirky element of their latest release The Resurrectionist then? First of all, it is a Gothic-horror novel of sorts that is written in the vein of Gothic classics like either Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula. Unlike these classics, Dr. Spencer Black outdoes Victor Frankenstein in the department of depravity, since he endeavors and succeeds in creating multiple hybridized creatures that are partially human, but also experimental replicas of such noteworthy mythological creatures like either minotaurs, mermaids, and satyrs. Anatomical sketches of all these rather subversive creatures are preserved for posterity in the back section of the book, and it is being published for the first time in an attempt to regale readers with some of the most disturbing monstrosities that have ever been created in the name of science (For more sensitive readers or those inclined to gullibility, I only jest by saying that this account is by any means a non-fictional account; well, it might be a bit nonfictional)
One of the more outstanding qualities of this book is just how believable this disturbing account could be taken as. I'm talking suspension of disbelief that is used very effectively. When I started reading the finely detailed prose of the beginning sections of the book, I had to ask myself: Has this really occurred? Knowing the Philly area really well, I also had to contemplate whether or not these mythological creatures were buried somewhere in Philly. If they were buried, where would they be buried? Hopefully, this kind of grand conspiracy wouldn't inspire Disney to make another National Treasure movie, starring the infamously weird Nicholas Cage of Wicker Man fame? Then, I remembered that this book is reassuringly a fiction book, and I could relax that a more skilled resurrectionist couldn't somehow resurrect Dr. Spencer Black's mythological creatures, emulating the unnatural scientific experiments that he chronicles within this exciting book. This is an entertaining novel, not an instructive piece on how to make people suspect that you've gone completely out of your mind.
Throughout the narrative portion of the book (the book is part-narrative/part-art book), the question about the ethical limits of science are raised. Currently, we live in an era that fortunately has laws in place that protects human beings from having unwanted experiments conducted on them. Increasingly, there is more controversy about animal rights and whether certain types of experimentation on certain species of animals are unethical. While this book never explicitly delves into such contemporary issues, the novel broaches these questions nonetheless, as it implores the reader to think about the continued debate of the ethical limits of science. In the last hundred years, science has awed us with miraculous drugs and vaccinations that have offered us the means to outwit death. At the same time, we have created such horrific weapons, like the nuclear bomb, that was an abominable weapon that murdered many people's lives during World War II.
Returning to the plot of the novel, the real ethical dilemma that Dr. Spencer Black's actions raised lies with whether or not the dead bodies of human beings are truly sacred property: Is it unethical for him to utilize these dead bodies for the creation of new life in the form of hybridized creatures? Are the ethical sanctions of religious organizations relevant to a scientist's endeavors? Even though the narrative section is fairly short, E.B. Hudspeth does an adept job, raising these interesting questions in the frame of a truly engrossing Gothic tale.
Fascinatingly, the book is skillfully juxtaposed with an entire art section at the end of the book that is filled to the brim with meticulously drawn images of the various creatures that Dr. Spencer Black managed to create during his fictitious lifetime. While paging through this section, I wish I had the means to order poster versions of some of these drawings. They would be the perfect artwork to hang next to my delightfully macabre Edward Gory poster of The Gashlycrumb Tinies. In many ways, the Gothic art style seems partly inspired by Edward Gory, but it really is uniquely its own brand of Gothic art. Of course, the actual shape of the figures pays homage to the monsters from comic-books as well. E.B. Hudspeth's style is really his own eclectic style, and I really loved these well-drawn illustrations, along with some of the accompanying notes that give some brief descriptions of each of the mythological beasts that the infamous Dr. Spencer Black managed to create during his lifetime. If you are either an Edward Gory, Mary Shelley, or Bram Stoker fan like myself, this is the book to check out because it will both entertain and fascinate you for many immeasurably long hours!! For More Information about the novel or its author,
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