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June 21, 2013 / Leslie

Review: The Resurrectionist by E. B. Hudspeth

The Resurrectionist by E.B. HudspethThe Resurrectionist:
The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black
by E.B. Hudspeth

Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publish Date: May 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover | 192 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

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?

My Thoughts:

The Resurrectionist is two books in one. The first part is an imagined biography, a fictionalized account of the life of Dr. Spencer Black, beginning with his childhood and ending with his mysterious disappearance. The second part is a series of illustrations, an anatomic reference manual, of eleven extinct species.

Spencer Black was the son of a surgeon who resorted to grave robbing in order to obtain bodies to practice and learn surgical skills. Young Spencer and his brother spent time assisting his father in these graveyard expeditions eventually becoming a practicing physician himself.

His approach to anatomy and medicine changed dramatically after encountering people with profound deformities. At first they were only a curiosity but eventually he was forced to abandon conventional medicine due to his extreme beliefs. His reputation with scientific community fell and his views were criticized.

Dr. Black had become a mad scientist gone extra mad. He was obsessed. To earn money he joined carnivals and circuses, displayed his specimens and told stories on how they descended from mythological creatures, many of which he created himself. He he believed that genetic mutations were manifestations of the ancient past, evidence of a genetic code that was not completely eradicated.

A child born without arms may be a confused body that lacked the information to produce wings, of a harpy perhaps. — Spencer Black

While I enjoyed the story and the concept, the execution could have been a little better. It was written as a biography interspersed with journal excerpts and correspondence to and from Dr. Black. The style was a little dry for my tastes but that could be because I read a little too much Stephen King horror and was expecting to be shown more grotesque and macabre scenarios, a livelier story.

Where this book really shines is in the second part, The Codex Extinct Animalia, A Study of the Lesser Know Species of the Animal Kingdom, presented as an anatomy book along the lines of Gray’s Anatomy.


The drawings are gorgeous with exquisite detail; original, creative and a little creepy. Each creature is displayed in multiple drawings showing skeleton, muscle and various anatomical features from different angles along with a written introduction. I found them fascinating.

Enchanting and at the same time macabre, this is a beautiful volume and would make an excellent coffee table book. For those who enjoy dark fantasy and stories in the style of Edgar Allan Poe, this is not to be missed.

Source: Review copy provided by Quirk Books
© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.




Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / Jun 21 2013 12:23 pm

    The drawings are gorgeous!


  2. Suko / Jun 21 2013 5:24 pm

    I love the illustrations, and the book sounds terrific overall!


  3. irene / Jun 21 2013 7:00 pm

    Not sure this is for me, but I do love the illustrations.


  4. stacybuckeye / Jun 21 2013 10:42 pm

    The cover grabbed me for sure, but I’m not sure of the dryer-than-King story could do it for me. The photos are awesome though.


  5. Beth F / Jun 22 2013 6:05 am

    I just love the illustrations but I’ve struggled with reading it.


  6. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader / Jun 22 2013 9:59 am

    Wow, beautiful illustrations! 😀


  7. samstillreading / Jun 22 2013 10:49 pm

    Awesome book! Love the combination!



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