Sunday, April 21, 2013

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

Horror fans are always clamoring for something different.

"Vampires (Werewolves/Zombies/Demons/etc.) again?? Where's the originality? Give me something new!"

Well, put your money where your collective mouths are, Horror fans. Here's something new.

While not overtly horrific, E.B. Hudspeth's The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black created and managed to maintain a distinct air of unease and dread, almost from page one. I read a lot, and I read a lot of Horror, and I have to tell you, it's not often that I get that delicious feeling of chills crawling up the back of my neck. Hudspeth delivered that feeling, and delivered in spades.

The book is presented in two parts: The first part is a fictional biography of Dr. Spencer Black, a renowned Surgeon whose life takes a turn for the strange in the late 1800's. Black becomes obsessed with the notion of mythological creatures, specifically with the idea that beings such as Centaurs, Dragons, Harpies, and others, did exist...He not only posits their existence, but suggests that they were offshoots of Humanity, and the secrets to their return could be locked within the Human body, waiting to be coaxed out by the right man...

Black shuns the Medical world, and begins to work in secret....work which eventually leads him to a traveling sideshow, where he creates his own bizarre, chilling exhibits.

The second portion of the book is comprised of "The Codex Extinct Animalia", which features a long-lost book that Black had published toward the end of his life, which catalogs his thoughts, complete with his extensive, painstaking illustrations, on a host of mythological (Or were they real....?) beasts.

I was expecting a jumped-up high-concept book that would be heavy on art (Which it is...), but I was really taken aback by Hudspeth's writing ability. He presents the first half of the book as a straightforward, if somewhat bizarre, biography, and never wavers from that format. It's what happens between the lines, what he implies, that carries the full weight of the Horror that Black's life is becoming, and Hudspeth does a phenomenal job of making the reader aware of his intent without bludgeoning his points home. I can think of few, if any, seasoned Horror Authors that could have done a better job. His artistic renderings of Black's creatures is nothing short of breathtaking...You almost feel as if Hudspeth had them on a table, in various states of dissection, while he created the sketches.

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black is a rare treat for horror fans, and I can't recommend it enough.

Quirk Books provided a review copy.