Historical Fiction

Anatomy: Not Entirely a Love Story, but Still an Enjoyable Read

*I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher. All quotes used in this review come from the uncorrected proof. These are my personal, honest opinions. Thank you.*

4/5 Stars

Author: Dana Schwartz

Publisher/Imprint: Wednesday Books

Edition: Paperback ARC, 335 Pages

Hardcover Publication Date: January 18, 2022

A Spine that Shines? Pretty Well


Book Synopsis

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.

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.

Book Review

‘Dead bodies are never going to bite you. They’re never going to do anything to you. It’s living things that hurt you.’

-Dana Schwartz, Anatomy: A Love Story

Initial Thoughts

6696A586-9808-4857-A0D1-2CED883E044FHi, everyone! What have you been reading? I finished reading Anatomy: A Love Story a few days ago and am excited to share my thoughts with you all. The book released on Tuesday 01/18 in the U.S., and you may have heard by now that it has been selected as Reese Witherspoon’s Winter 2022 YA Book Club pick. While I didn’t think it was absolutely amazing, I still found it to be an enjoyable read overall.

Here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • My favorite things about this book were the atmosphere and historical setting in 1817 Edinburgh!
  • There are secret passages involved and creepy graveyards at night!
  • I also loved the strong-willed horse named Betelgeuse LOL.
  • The premise of this book was really interesting. However, I thought the execution could’ve been smoother. The pacing felt a little bit off when it comes to the romance and the mystery aspects of the story.
  • On a related note, I think the title of this book is a little misleading. It makes it sound like this book is romance-heavy, but it actually isn’t. (More on the romance in a bit.) The focus of the story is mainly on Hazel’s love of anatomy and her role as a woman in 1817 Edinburgh society. Thus, people’s opinions of the book will likely vary depending on whether you prefer a romance-heavy storyline or not. Personally, I was expecting more romance and was a little disappointed.
  • I also thought there would be a bit more mystery woven throughout the story. Although it’s there in the background, the climax/conclusion of the mystery and the supernatural aspects are squished into the final quarter of the book, making it feel a little rushed at the end.

Characters & Romance

Here is a brief overview of the characters and romance. Not all of them felt very well-rounded in my opinion.

  • Hazel Sinnett is the daughter of the Captain of the Royal Navy, who is almost always away. Hazel’s mother is extremely negligent and hardly pays any attention to her – except to order her to get engaged as soon as possible. But Hazel doesn’t want to marry right away. She wants to become a surgeon. Her determination to become a physician and help people was admirable.
  • Hazel’s mother could simply be categorized as negligent and overprotective of Hazel’s younger brother Percy. There wasn’t much else to the mother’s character.
  • Bernard Almont is Hazel’s cousin whom Hazel is expected to marry. Simply put, he’s a rich, slimy-kisser douche-bag. Gross.
  • Dr. Beecham is the most renowned surgeon in Edinburgh and agrees to a bargain with Hazel to let her take the Physician’s Examination.
  • Jack Currer is a young resurrection man just trying to make a living. He starts to develop feelings for Hazel when she asks him to help her steal corpses from graveyards.
  • Although I enjoyed the romance and thought it was sweet, it also felt like something was missing from it. Jack and Hazel don’t interact very much until about halfway through the book when the romance is thrown in there. I think their first kiss came a little too soon; there wasn’t enough on-page interaction between them beforehand in my opinion. It was slightly insta-love in the middle of the book.
  • I also didn’t feel like I got to know Jack very well. We got inconsistent snippets of his POV at some points in the story, but not much. Thus, the ending didn’t quite have the emotional effect on me that I think was intended.

Final Thoughts

Stunning artwork on the inside front cover of the ARC!
Stunning artwork on the inside back cover of the ARC!

A few other things stood out me about this story. For one thing, the villains fell a little flat for me. I thought that the mysterious henchmen were very stereotypical figures. And the main villain was, well, “villainous” and a bit mad – which is fine, but his craziness kind of just appeared all of a sudden at the climax of the book.

I also think Hazel gets away with an awful lot while she’s unsupervised at home; she turns the castle dungeon into a laboratory and turns the castle into a hospital for the poor while her family is away – with hardly any consequences. It just didn’t feel entirely believable for someone like her in 1817 Edinburgh.

But overall, this was still an entertaining read, and I enjoyed the setting and seeing how things played out in the end. I would choose to read another book by this author if given the opportunity, and I might purchase the blood-red B&N special edition of Anatomy at some point. Happy reading 🙂

*Content Warnings: Lots of blood and gore in the surgical/medical context (some scenes are pretty horrific).*

Copyright © 2022 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)

Up Next on My TBR: I Must Betray You (ARC)

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3 thoughts on “Anatomy: Not Entirely a Love Story, but Still an Enjoyable Read”

  1. I love the sound of the setting for this one but I have been seeing pretty mixed reviews for it. I also totally relate on finding it annoying when villians became crazed as soon as they’re revealed – it needs to have hints throughout. I do still hope to check this out sometime though. But for now I really need to try & focus on some of my physical tbr.
    I also look forward to seeing your thoughts on I Must Betray You. Hope that you enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

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