Content Warnings: death, war, nazis, dead animals
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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.
This was one that did not click with me as much as I was hoping. When I came across The Art of Taxidermy on NetGalley, the title and cover art immediately intrigued me. Then, when I saw that it was written in verse, I immediately hit the request button. Verse novels are my absolute favorite, so it’s a pretty guaranteed way to get me to read your book.
Sharon Kernot really is a great poet. Her words are beautiful and flow together so well, creating excellent imagery and emotion. The way she manages to explore the topic of grief in this novel was incredible. Lottie deals with the death of her mother in an honest and heartbreaking way that I was able to relate to after the loss of my nana.
One thing that bothered me about this story though was I didn’t understand why it was being told. Yes, the words were beautiful, but I needed more of a driving force behind them. Lottie’s story was incredibly interesting with her fascination with dead animals and the desire to preserve them, but there didn’t seem to be a reason as to why Kernot decided to share it with us. This missing piece caused me to have an overall feeling of boredom throughout the time it took me to read the book. A lot of the poems also felt repetitious after a while.
I am glad that I took the time to read The Art of Taxidermy, and I definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys novels in verse or the macabre. I was so glad to see that Lottie stayed true to who she was throughout the novel despite her aunt’s best efforts. This is a very unique story, and I know the subject matter won’t jive with everybody, but it was nice to see something out there for those of us that like things others find abnormal or gross. I’m definitely interested in reading more by Sharon Kernot, and I truly hope she continues to write poetry.
A digital ARC was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.