ARC Review: The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot

The Art of TaxidermyThe Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.

Warnings: animal death, description of gore

At the outset, I was intrigued by the premise of the book and picked it even though I find taxidermy to be kinda creepy. And by the end, I think I understand it better. So, in this verse (and that was a surprise to me when I opened this book lol) novel the story is told via these short poems by Lottie, who is fascinated by and trying to understand death after her mother passes away. She and her companion, Annie, search for dead bodies of animals around the neighborhood, and Lottie gradually starts collecting the corpses like treasures. Her aunt finds it a morbid habit for a girl to have, even if she is like a preteen and it could be a phase; her father meanwhile, encourages her curiosity, seeing that she needs it to process through things.

Throughout the book, Lottie seeks to preserve her collection and add to it, putting her at odds with her aunt who regularly clears it out of the house. Lottie experiments with taxidermy even if she doesn’t know the word for it yet, and when she finds it, she is enchanted by the process that could, in her words, resurrect the dead. She also finds a beauty in death, which going by the fact that so many of her family members are dead makes a sort of sense. Through her perspective, we also see the others’ own methods of coping with death, and the stories of the people who died. It also mentions the Loveday Internment camps (placing this novel in a time much earlier than I imagined) and the Stolen Generations (in the form of her classmate Jeremy) and explores the kinds of loss from them. Ultimately, Lottie’s story speaks for a girl who has experienced loss and honors it in what way she can, and the novel evokes strong emotions.

In short, it is a beautifully written verse novel about loss, and dealing with death.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Text Publishing, via Edelweiss.

View all my reviews

Buy links

The Book Depository | Wordery

Released on August 13, 2019

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