Book Review: The Resurrectionist

ResurrectionistAuthor: E. B. Hudspeth

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Quirk Books

ISBN-10: 1594746168
ISBN-13: 978-1594746161

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.

Sometimes books can be easily enjoyed on a Kindle or iPad and sometimes they must be experienced in full pages. The Resurrectionist is one of those books. The books is tall (7.5 x 1 x 10.5 inches) and would make a very interesting coffee table book. When my husband spotted it he was instantly curious about the figure on the front, pictured above. Because it’s so tall, it instantly lends itself to hard study of the drawings in the second half of the book.

The first half is the story of the fictional character, Dr. Spencer Black. His childhood spent assisting his surgeon father rob graves to study the dead, his marriage and the birth of his children, through his descending madness. He eventually finds his way into the carnival circuit with a museum of sideshow creations and his life comes to a very mysterious conclusion. The story side of the book is extremely well written by author E. B. Hudspeth, who easily teeters between a biographical narrative and personal letters heavy with scientific tone.

The second half of the book is made up of very detailed anatomical drawings of some of the more bizzare figures that Dr. Spencer Black used for study either in attempts to create the beasts or in taxidermy. Some of the beasts pictured in great detail with figures of muscle structure and separate figures for bones or organ placement include the sphinx, siren (mermaid), minotaur, three headed dog, pegasus, harpy and many others.

The Resurrectionist is a haunting book of a mad scientist and it would make for some interesting conversations around the house. Even without having to read the story, the pictures are so well done that they stand alone to make the book wonderful.

I give The Resurretionist by E. B. Hudspeth Five Out of Five Stars.



The Resurrectionist is available on Amazon! Here’s a link!

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black (Hardcover)

List Price: $24.95 USD
New From: $12.04 USD In Stock
Used from: $8.45 USD In Stock

Jess Orso
Written by Jess Orso

Jess is the Managing Editor and Southern Correspondent for