Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz // Book Review

This is the perfect gothic YA you’ll want to read this fall!

Here’s more about Anatomy: A Love Story

Edinburgh, 1817. Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.

Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.

When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect.

Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then.

But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.

A gothic tale full of mystery and romance about a willful female surgeon, a resurrection man who sells bodies for a living, and the buried secrets they must uncover together.

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My thoughts

Anatomy follows young Hazel in 19th century Edinburgh with a dream to become a physician one day. Sadly, this wasn’t the greatest time for women and the dream she so dared to dream required a lot more work to achieve. She’s betrothed to her cousin (keeping it in the family) and made to conform to the position of young woman in high society. Reading manuals on human physiology, bringing dead frogs back from the dead, and disguising herself as a boy to attend classes at an all-boys physiology school, Hazel was determined to be a physician regardless of her sex.

But there was a lot more happening in this book than just her pursuit in science. Not only is there the plot about Hazel wanting to become a doctor, but there’s also a plague going around, bodies going missing, deaths occurring, and a marriage proposal. I loved that this story had so many aspects that wrapped itself together into one bigger story. I loved the mysterious aspects of the story and brought a little bit of suspense to it. I was wondering who might be the person who was causing all the deaths and the reveal was quite satisfying.

It also explored the gothic stories of the time period. I was getting Bronte sisters and even a little Mary Shelley with the descriptions, the strange science experiments and the like. The book taking place in Scotland also lended to the setting. I just imagined misty moors and abandoned graveyards. The atmosphere throughout the story truly set the stage for the events.

While I wish the romance was a tad bit stronger to match the end of the book, I did believe in Jack and Hazel and their wild duo would have been such a great ending. I felt like Jack and Hazel’s relationship didn’t really have the time to develop although I did appreciate their encounters and the way they worked with each other. I just wish the magic in their love story was a bit more prominent.

Just as an aside, but for some reason Jack’s part in the story reminded me a lot of Jack in another historical film that involved a big boat. I wanted him to have a much bigger part, but I also loved that he encouraged Hazel to pursue her dreams by digging up the bodies for her.

I will say, the ending really threw me and had a much different feel to it from the rest of the book. It truly surprised me and while it didn’t match the rest of the story, it did leave me hanging and hoping there’s a second book (there is!).

This is definitely the perfect book for the spooky season if you’d like something a bit spooky without it being all right horrifying. I will say that the level of gore may make you cringe, but I think you’ll also be captured by the story, the romance, and the interesting ending.

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