The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot
Review: I was excited to read this young adult book because I have never heard of a book on taxidermy (in YA) before. Very interesting summery, so why not?
I was surprised to find out within the first few pages of this book that it was told through prose (poetry), and that did cause me to have a harder time to get into the book. Now, don’t get me wrong I’m all for poetry-I love reading it. But, I was a bit thrown by it within the context of the plot/summary of this book. In the end it took me about two days to read this book and a day and a half to work through my notes to start writing up this review.
With the poetry style writing, everything that was being told was so much darker and creepy. So, perfect! All fun aside, it was hard trying to figure out common information that is readily given in novel format of a book. It took way too long to put together that our main character’s name is (well, nickname) Lottie and this is set a while back (time wise, I’d say a little after WW2). One the things I didn’t get information (at least to put together) about her family being German and were living in Australia, also that her sister wasn’t really with her (I thought she was an invisible best friend).
What I did like was how we get see overtime why Lottie loves to study and keep dead animals, skulls ect. Her whole life (she’s six when the story starts and goes till she’s 13, I think?) she has been surrounded and in the shadow of death. Her grandfather dies at an internment camp, her mother and youngest sibling die during the birth (the baby was stillborn and her mother was too weak and heartbroken). Her uncle dies and as we find out later her older sister (the oldest sibling) died when Lottie was young (and her mother was still alive). Although, it was nice to read about her and Annie (the older sister) liking the same things and seeing the beauty in death together (there is a rather chill inducing poem of Annie talking about how she died).
Lottie’s grandmother, aunt and father are very present in her life, her aunt trying to straighten her out to be a normal young girl. Who does not understand Lottie’s interest in dead things and keeping them, which makes her be the one who throws them out . In the end though, she is able to understand Lottie and her love (and her reasons for before, and how she thought that Lottie needed life instead of more death in her life).
Overall, I loved Lottie’s drive and passion for taxidermy from such a young age. Although, with her family dynamic and the hardships each of them went through, and how Lottie went through so much death and sadness and found this beautiful passion from it (recreating and bringing back the dead in a way).
I studied my beautiful corpse, in their decay.
I never cried.
I do not remember much
she was a shadow
that hovered in the dark corners of the
It was as if I had traveled
to his heart,
to the dark recesses
of his grief.
You are a gift
And a curse.
Would I? Reread? Maybe. Read more from this author? I think it would depend on what type of novel she wrote next. Recommend to others? I think so.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.
Edition: Kindle Edition, 265 pages.
Young Adult. Poetry. Historical Fiction. Fiction. Contemporary. Mature Themes.
Published August 13th 2019 by Text Publishing.
Summary: Lottie collects dead creatures and lovingly cares for them, hoping to preserve them, to save them from disintegration. Her father understands—Lottie has a scientific mind, he thinks. Her aunt wants it to stop, and she goes to cruel lengths to make sure it does.
And her mother? Lottie’s mother died long ago. And Lottie is searching for a way to be close to her.
The Art of Taxidermy is a heartbreaking verse novel exploring love and death, grief and beauty, and the ways we try to make sense of it all.
-Summary from GoodReads.com