Tuesday, May 14, 2013

THE RESURRECTIONIST: THE LOST WORK OF DR. SPENCER BLACK

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.

In E. B. Hudspeth's freshman work,  The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black, he has created a creepy book suitable for any lover of horror and mythology.  Not for the weak stomached, Hudspeth's book is somewhat of a biography on the fictional Dr. Black, explaining his love for mythical creatures and his belief that modern day humans are descendents from these creatures.  As the pages turn, readers are given a look into Dr. Black's descent from scientific obsession into stark-raving madness.  Through both illustrations and description, Hudspeth showcases an incredible grasp of imagery, generating images that at moments were difficult to stomach.  Hudspeth divulges into graphic detail of Dr. Spencer Black's experiments, with a particularly unsettling description of vivisection.  Picture Re-Animator meets Edgar Allan Poe by way of Gray's Anatomy.  

Paying careful attention to detail, The Resurrectionist appears to be historically accurate with both medical practices and societal attitudes.  Stir all of this in with a dash of mystical creatures, and a sprinkle of disturbing descriptions and you've got an idea of what Hudspeth has created.  The book seems to have been compiled from someone who has come across the research of Dr. Black, giving an unbiased look into the mind of this manic doctor.  The Resurrectionist feels like two books in one, with the first half being far more disgusting than the second.  If you can manage to survive the first half of the book, it will be smooth sailing for the rest of the read.

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