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on 3 August 2017
Wanted this book for a long times. Very good very illustrative, a good coffee table book for darker people.
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on 9 October 2016
Fascinating! It was almost disappointing if somewhat relieving to confirm this book was fictional. If you like the macabre it is a must read.
I don't normally save books for rereading but I may return to this one. The anatomical plates lend an aura of authenticity that one
rarely finds in fiction. Makes me worry for the creative mind that thought this one up though, I hope he/she isn't my next door neighbour!
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 February 2014
They say not to judge a book by its cover. But with the cover of "The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black," what you see is what you get.

And to be honest, the picture of a winged-humanoid skeleton, with every bone carefully catalogued, was enough to reel me into checking out this book. It's a pseudo-biography of a fictional man who devoted himself to the scientific study of ancient mythical creatures -- and while E.B. Hudspeth spins a fine fictional biography, the illustrations are what really took my breath away.

The book tells the story of Spencer Black, a 19th-century physician whose father was a grave-robbing professor of anatomy. That fascination with anatomy carried over into Black's career -- first he became fascinated by transformation in the insect world, and then by the workings of the human body. But when he encounters the corpse of a "fawn-child," his research took an unexpected turn.

After that, Dr. Black came up with a shocking, controversial theory: that mythical creatures were not only real, but were ancestors of humanity. According to him, birth defects were just those ancient genetic traits trying to resurface. So he tried to create his own "mythical" creatures by grafting together body parts from different animals -- which, unsurprisingly, the scientific community was unimpressed by.

The late 19th century is a perfect era for the fictional Dr. Black -- it was a time of massive technological advances and strange new pseudosciences. Just think of the Fiji Mermaid. So while "The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black" is an entirely fictional work, EB Hudspeth manages to blur the boundaries between fiction and reality -- you can almost believe it is a biography of a real person.

He also does an excellent job writing a pseudo-biography, exploring the events in Black's life (failed surgery, death of his children) that fueled his obsessions. Hudspeth even writes letters to/from Black, as well as a journal entry from his brother Bernard about his first, horrifying "graft."

But the most fascinating part of the book is not the fictional biography, but the "The Codex Extinct Animalia." In this, we can see beautifully detailed drawings of sphinxes, harpies, fluttering multi-finned mermaids, dragons (serpentine and regular), pegasi, and countless other mythical creatures. Not only are these the most realistic depictions of mythical creatures I have ever seen, but they are the most scientifically plausible.

Hudspeth achieves this by examining these creatures down the muscles, organs and bones, which are catalogued in painstaking detail. He even catalogues them by different orders and fictional families -- for instance, the Siren Oceanus is a member of the family Sirenidae and the genus Siren, with internal lungs covered in gills.

"The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black" is an exquisite piece of work -- a solid, sometimes horrifying pseudo-biography, followed by exquisitely realistic depictions of mythic creatures. If nothing else, read this for Hudspeth's beautiful illustrations.
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on 24 September 2016
I'm still reading this book but I'm not far off finishing it now.

It's written in two parts. The first is a biography of Dr Spencer Black, who was a medical school prodigy in the 1800s, swiftly turning into an enfent terrible as his madness started to take over. The second part is taken from the only known copy of Dr Black's book "The Codex Extinct Animalia", which is a study of mythological beasts such as the Centaur, Mermaid, etc., that Dr Black believed were real and we were descended from.

The book is beautifully illustrated throughout. Dr Black was an amazing draughtsman, if sadly insane as time went on. If you have a love of the strange I would recommend this book wholeheartedly. It's worth every penny.
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on 1 June 2013
Author E.B. Hudspeth, has, through journals, newspaper reports, diaries and letters, made this pseudo-history seem almost real. Thanks to an unconventional youth as a grave-robbing ghoul, Spencer Black was destined to become a scientist, obsessed with reanimation. Parents eh? Black's father unwittingly started something that would consume his son for a lifetime with tragic consequences.

This book charts a talented doctor and scientist's descent from sanity, respectability and professionalism to obsession and madness, all sadly at the expense of his wife and children.

Hudspeth has cleverly juxtaposed a story about ghouls and mythology with the puritan values of nineteenth century America. Couple the story of the first part with the anatomical artwork and this is a very clever idea expertly executed.

It is a little thin on story, but that is perhaps a deliberate ploy to make Black more enigmatic and mysterious. Suffice to say, I read this quickly and was hooked throughout. This is a Gothic, tragic, and at times, shocking work of fiction. The artwork is beautiful as well as thought provoking; Hudspeth should be applauded for tackling a controversial subject of vivisectionist work and science against the backdrop of a highly moralistic society. Genius to madness has been covered before, but this is a moving and understated work where the realms of myth and fantasy meet the real world.
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on 29 January 2017
First things first: it was not packed well. It was only put into a carton envelope which was bigger than the book so it slided inside and the corners and especially the spine came battered which is less than I expect when buying a new book.

As for the book itself - I must say I was very disappointed by it for many a reason. It had a potential to be a full experience, but as soon as you took the dust cover away, you could realise that all that potential was wasted.
Everything was wrong with the design: the grainy "old book" print on the cover with a sharp-lined figure at the center; the thick stark-white paper; the typeface used; the design of the pages themselves;
and what bit me the most - the actual anatomical drawings are made in a soft blunt pencil (!??). I mean, in the book it is claimed that all the drawings are made by the doctor himself in the second half of XIXth cent. and it takes only an easy google search to see how the authentic anatomical drawings from that time looked. So unfortunatelly the ones provided in this book have no authentic feel which, I believe, will be a great disappointment for many of the readership as most of them will have bought it for the latter part of the book. Certainly not for the dry story.

I've already mentioned the content: so the story itself really is...it's annoying, really. It would be obvious to anyone that very little actual work was put into writing it.
As for the second part:first of all, in my view, "Codex Extinct Animalia"is a truly bold name for something that has only 11 creatures in it; the creatures themselves feel like a "yawn" material: a sphynx; a siren; a satyr; a minotaur; what looks like ganesha; a chimera; a cerberus; a pegasus; a chinese dragon; a centaur; a harpy. The most usual and, in a way, already boring stuff. It could have been played out with adding lots and lots of them, at least, alas...

There's lots more to be said, but lets not get into the details too much. For all the books claims at grandeur, authenticity, mysticism - it fails to deliver anything that would actually wow you.
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on 12 June 2014
This book is really cool and I love all of the illustrations inside. Would definitely recommend as an odd curiosity for book collectors :)
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on 22 October 2016
So glad I brought this book, loved everything about it, the first half of the book (the story) was absolutely fascinating and well written, although it left me wanting more I think the length was spot on, the second half of the book (the codex) is mostly beautiful artwork of high quality which displays perfectly considering the amount of detail, this book is quite exceptional and highly recommended, I defiantly look forward to more work by the author
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on 30 December 2014
I'm so annoyed with this book. It's looks so gorgeous from the cover. But there is an old saying....
I'm not gonna lie I bought this for the drawings. I waned unctuous Victorian looking creatures bodies and creepy skeletons. I don't care about building up mythologies of fictional people's lives. But therein lies the kicker; most of this book is fiction. The drawings are the smallest part. And they suck. They really suck. It is so badly drawn I can't express. The heads are drawn out of proportion, (doesn't the 'illustrator' know that the number one rule of drawing heads it that eyes are half way down the face not up in the forehead?) the faces are laughable, creatures do not look seamlessly joined, they look like the illustrator has copied a snake say and then a lion and stopped drawing where they should meet. The hands are classic 'can't draw hands' style hand drawings. It's terrible. I have attached a picture for you to see. Look how flat and weird the hair looks! And it's so poorly presented inside. As i said, I'm proper annoyed at this book!
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on 26 December 2015
I really, really loved this book and I was gave it as a gift so couldnt even look at it properly. But it looked fascinating, a bit of quirky imagination and drawings that I thought were lovely and don't see anything wrong with them.
What I loved about the book was that if you remove the external cover, the print on the hardback is that of an old book. I love that touch.
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