“The Art of Taxidermy” by Sharon Kernot

Thanks to Text Publishing and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is written in verse which is really cool and something a bit different.. I was a little apprehensive at first as this is not a writing style I engage with very often. I needn’t have worried however, as it it’s a sublime reading experience and makes perfect sense in the context of the book.

Lottie, a young girl, the child of German immigrants living in Australia becomes fascinated with death after her mother dies. As a result of this interest, she begins collecting dead animals in an attempt to preserve them. Her aunt is horrified but her father encourages her interest, seeing it as a sign of burgeoning scientific curiosity.

I have a distinctly morbid slant when it comes to matters of life and death so I found this book really interesting. It’s a meditation on grief through the eyes of a young girl looking to make sense of what she’s been through and how she chooses to process the death of her mother.

The book also has a real sense of place and the Australian landscape, flora and fauna plays a key role in the lyrical descriptions of Lottie’s life and experiences.

The novel also touches on prejudice against the Aboriginal population and contains a seemingly controversial use of the n-word. It is used in the context of ‘they called him _______’ as in referencing the racism faced by the character’s best friend. This word was clearly used against the Aboriginal population in the historical context of post WW2 Australia so I didn’t have an issue with it, but some readers have found it objectionable so make your own judgement.

Another slightly bizarre criticism I’ve seen is people complaining that the book has descriptions of dead animals. Bruhhhhhh…

Anyhoo, I really enjoyed this, it was a short, immersive read that utilised an interesting writing style to tell its story.

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