I received the hardcover edition of this book as a Christmas gift and fell in love with it instantly. I am a budding horror author and loved the strange tale of science gone wrong contained within.
The first portion of the book is a fictional biography following the life and exploits of Dr. Spencer Black.
The story holds the same tone as a documentary. It contains excerpts from Black’s own journals, the journals of friends and family, letters of correspondence, or newspaper articles. This method of storytelling helped root the strange tale in its mythos and one could easily find themselves wondering if the account was based off of a real person.
This bizarre chronicle shares many of the same themes as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but Spencer Black as a character was distinct and intriguing enough to create an impression of his own. The story is not long. I gobbled it up within two or three days of receiving it. Though Spencer Black’s biography isn’t extensive, it serves the secondary purpose of setting up the second portion of the book.
The additional section is a failed anatomy book of cryptozoological and mythological beings that Dr. Black believed to truly have existed at one time. Each being is accompanied with an excerpt from Dr. Black’s notes, explaining his ideas about the creature’s possible anatomical functions. For example, he draws a detailed sketch of a mermaid’s respiratory system. As a mermaid is part man and part fish, he melds the two separate systems. The result is a mermaid sporting a pair of lungs, with each lobe sporting its own gills to filter out the oxygen from the water. Obviously, a lot of thought was put into the possible anatomy of these creatures, further enhancing the story that was already told, and pulling you that much deeper into the madness of Dr. Spencer Black.
This could have easily come off as a corny, lowbrow picture book for monster enthusiast, but the pairing of the brilliant artwork with the tragic life story of Spencer Black made for a storytelling experience unlike any that I had previously encountered.
This book will look brilliant nestled between books on your shelf, or as a conversation piece on your coffee table. Better yet, accompany it with a cabinet of curiosities of your own making. Even if you are not wholly satisfied with the story, you will marvel at the stunning artwork. This book is an experience that many horror fans would enjoy.
The book is available through Amazon. If you are curious about this title, I would suggest exploring other people’s reviews to see if this book is right for you as not everyone will enjoy it as much as I did.