Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz
Published on May 31, 2022
Reviewed by Jayde Valosin
Hazel Sinnett has been engaged to her cousin Bernard, the future viscount Almont, since she was practically a toddler. Bernard is content to have a wife who will plan his parties and know when to keep her mouth shut around company. Hazel has other plans- she has been secretly studying medicine behind her family's back and dreams of one day becoming a surgeon, unheard of for a lady of her time. When she is caught dressing as a boy and attending surgery lectures, she truly believes her dreams are over. That is until her teacher, Dr. Beecham, proposes a deal- she can sit for the Physician's Examination and, should she pass, she can continue studying with him. If she fails, she cannot return to try again.
This works for Hazel, who needs to find a way to study actual human anatomy. She turns to Jack, a "resurrection man" who steals bodies out of graveyards and sells them for study. The two form an unlikely bond as Hazel continues her education and begins to notice that something strange seems to be occurring around her. Sometimes the dead come to her with strange afflictions she cannot rationalize, and sometimes the living show up with horrible stories and even worse... Hazel needs to figure out what's going on before the horrors come to hurt those she loves.
Anatomy: A Love Story is equal parts inspiration, horror, and romance. Hazel is a strong main character who won't take no for an answer, even if it means making her life more difficult than it needs to be. Her willingness to stand up for herself and pursue her dreams will surely resonate with readers who will root for her to succeed. The story itself is creepy without being gruesome. Schwartz is skilled at describing awful things- like grave robbing and surgery- with enough detail to paint a vivid picture but without veering into "too much" territory. Those who are particularly sensitive to reading about blood or illness may want to exercise caution with this title.
The romance offers some lightness, though it is certainly not a main focus of the book. An open ending leaves room for a sequel, but is a satisfying conclusion to the story. May interest readers of Wilder Girls by Rory Power, and perfect for those who appreciate creepy historical fiction.