The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black is first and foremost a work of art. It’s been sitting on my shelf for a few months now intriguingly promising something dark, twisted, and beautiful, and Hudspeth delivered on all counts. The detailed color illustrations and anatomical drawings of various alleged mythological creatures are incredible in and of themselves. The amount of detail and the descriptions, which are provided as a pseudo-medical compendium, is impressive. The accompanying short biography of Dr. Spencer Black is equally as detailed and researched.
Hudspeth commits to the reality of this secret history. The biography is written in a suitably dry, historical tone that lends Black’s grave robbing, surgeries, and increasingly sinister experiments a terrifying verisimilitude. Hudspeth has done his research and the medical and carnival settings of 19th Century Philadelphia are well depicted, grounding Dr. Black and making him feel far more plausible than, perhaps, he should. This is an excellent and chilling example of pseudo-history, although it is fairly short and leaves many questions maddeningly unanswered. Dr. Spencer Black’s madness and genius are left to the reader’s discursion. The tragedy, madness, and genius of Dr. Black and his fictional biography, however, are intended only to provide context.
The real attraction of The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black is the second half, The Codex Extinct Animalia, complete with illustrations and descriptions of sphinxes, sirens, satyrs, minotaurs, chimeras, dragons, harpies, and others. It is an immersive experience, and a work of art.
The cover is divine…
You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but at least part of me bought it just for that. The whole thing is gorgeous.
Hahaha, I know. I read old vintage SF and I refuse to buy a classic SF work with a new reprint Baen cover (i.e. shit art press) because I know I’ll eventually find a worthwhile old edition.