Book review: Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

Published January 18th 2022 by Wednesday Books


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.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

What were miracles, but science that man didn’t yet understand? And didn’t that make it all the more miraculous that the secrets of the universe were out there, codes one might decipher if smart enough, tenacious enough?

Anatomy starts as a very intriguing historical fiction but ends up as a very confusing paranormal story?

I was very excited to start this book. The premise promised me a gothic historical fiction about a girl who dreams to become a surgeon and a boy who steals bodies from the graves to sell them to surgeons. It also promised some sweet forbidden romantic time. I was utterly delighted! And mostly the book delivered.

Hazel is one determined heroine. Her drive to become a surgeon at a time when women hardly had any rights is admirable. The contrast between what is expected from a married woman and what a woman would want for herself is clearly shown in the story. Despite her rich status, Hazel is a prisoner.

It was an impossible situation, a trick of society as a whole: force women to live at the mercy of whichever man wants them but shame them for anything they might do to get a man to want them.

Jack, the hero, is on the other hand, is free to do as he wishes, but he is poor and in order to survive he must do what he had to.

For a young adult book, this one is rather violent. It contains detailed descriptions of dead bodies and dismemberment. Poverty on the streets of Edinburgh is the true face of the city, not the glamorous world of aristocracy. It is commendable how vividly Dana Schwartz re-created the horrors of that time.

But the thing that confused me is the contrast between realism and an abrupt dive into alchemy at the last quarter of the story. The ending is rather rushed and so many questions are left unanswered. Granted, I liked that it was an open ending and it’s more of a sad story than a happy one (be prepared for that), but it felt like there were more things left to say, more people to punish. And overall, the main mystery was dropped as it wasn’t important any longer?

The same goes for the romance part. Jack and Hazel make a wonderful pair from the opposite sides of life. And there’s a lot of investment into their romance from the author’s and readers’ side. But that all is kind of hangs at the end because the book took a different direction? Maybe there’s going to be a sequel, I don’t know, but I feel like there should’ve been more something to the romance.

At the end of the day, I keep asking myself: Was it a love story? Was it historical fiction with a dash of mystery? Or was it a paranormal story after all? I am confused as to how to categorize this story.

But one thing is for sure, it did leave a print of a scalpel on my heart. A memorable story.

5 thoughts on “Book review: Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

    1. Chelsea, i really enjoyed it and though not all my expectations were met, this is a really great book. I highly recommend it! The cover is stunning indeed.


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