This week I am reviewing Quirk Books’ The Resurrectionist in preparation for this weekend’s Book Expo America. The aesthetics of the book are breathtaking and really bring the book alive, I mean really as soon as I finish this review I’m sending the book to a friend of mine who LOVES Gothic art.
The Resurrectionist is broken into two basic parts, the first being a fictional biography of Dr. Spencer Black–a young biologist who becomes obsessed with proving that human mutations are examples of the body trying to revert to earlier forms of homo-sapiens. The second is a fictional collection of samples of Dr. Black’s work. This second half or “Codex Extinct Animalia” is filled with exquisite sketches of the taxidermy creatures that Dr. Black was supposed to have built out of exhumed bodies and dead animal parts. The sketches are more than mere curiosities, however–they are exact in every detail and strip the taxidermy creatures down to muscles and bones.
The split function of the book is an example of the article that I wrote over a year ago about the publishing world morphing to make books more valuable as physical artifacts. While the first portion of The Resurrectionist could function well as an eBook*, it is the second half that makes this book truly unique as a physical book on the bookshelf.
*The Resurrectionist has been released as an eBook for the kindle, and comes with a disclaimer that the file may take longer to load than most as it contains many oversized images, and has been “optimized for larger screens”
The illustrations in the Codex have all the attention to detail a biologist needs for his studies, and all the whimsy that a fantasy artist’s work needs to be believable. There are eleven creatures included in the book, pulled from fantasy and mythology from all over the world and throughout history. Each creatures gets several pages of description and “sketches” of how it would have existed, according to Dr. Black, had we not evolved into our current human state of boringness. The Codex is apparently built from the late Doctor’s field notes and random lab sketches, and has been assembled posthumously on his behalf as he went insane and then disappeared from the public eye. If the biography itself hadn’t done a thorough enough job convincing you that a man like Dr. Black could have and may have existed, then these sketches and explanations will surely convince you that the fantastic creatures he investigated may have at one time roamed the Earth. What’s truly remarkable about this book is that it brings the fantastic into the real world while still keeping the two apart, like the separation of biography from field guide within the book itself.
The Ressurectionist may not have been quite as successful if the two halves were separated, as neither is particularly unique. However, when artfully sewn together like one of Dr. Black’s “discoveries”, the whole that is created is something to be marveled.