Title: The Art of Taxidermy
Author: Sharon Kernot
Published: August 13th, 2019
by Text Publishing
Length: 240 pages
Buy a copy here: Bookdepository
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy. This didn’t affect my opinions or this review in any way.
The Art of Taxidermy is a novel written in verse and the first of its kind I read. I have to say it took a little bit to get used to the format but at about 30% I was fully immersed and couldn’t put it down.
“I can feel it, Annie whispered.
The air is heavy with ghosts.
The birds sing only sad songs.
The ground swallowed many tears.”
The writing is truly beautiful and some poems (chapters?) really touched me. I have marked quite a few, actually.
I also had a tear in my eye one time. It is such a wonderful story about a girl and her grief. Her unique way to see the world and experience the beauty in things other people don’t usually.
It might be a bit repetitive at times but in my opinion that actually added to the simple charm of the story. We follow Lottie trying to cope with the death of her mother. She starts to collect dead animals, a hobby her aunt is shocked by. I loved the way the relationship with her aunt is portrayed because it shows that sometimes people may want the best for us but hurt us in the process. That doesn’t mean they love us any less though.
I really appreciated how her father encouraged her to find her own way, to grief, to live.
The book also touched on the subjects of isolation and discrimination. It takes place in Australia and Lottie’s family are German immigrants who didn’t always have it easy there (Her parents lived through the second world war and the time of the internment camps in Australia).
Sharon Kernot uses a lot of imagery in her novel. If you can let yourself be wrapped in this story, you can feel the wind and the sun.
Although a fair warning: If you can’t stand the description of dead animals, maybe this is not for you.
While the way this story is told took some getting used to (especially when you’re like me and rarely read verse novels or poetry collections) it was the perfect way for this book. I couldn’t imagine it being written any other way. It perfectly captures the feeling of being unanchored after such a loss, the innocence of children and the strange beauty we can find anywhere in the world if we dare to search for it in unusual places.