The Art of Taxidermy

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

I think this is the first book of poetry I have ever reviewed on this blog. Yay for firsts! To be honest, when I first requested it, I didn’t realize it was poetry, which was a surprise when I started reading it. I haven’t really read poetry since college, and I must say, it was a truly beautiful experience.

The poems all connect to tell the story of Lotte, a young girl who has lost her mother. One of the ways she copes with it is by finding dead animals — birds, mice, mostly small things — and collecting them. She is fascinated by them. Her Aunt Hilde is worried about her doing this, finding it morbid and weird, and actually destroys Lotte’s collections on several occasions. I have to say, I really disliked Hilde, even though I know she was doing what she thought was right. Lotte had to find her own way to deal with her grief and this way was working. It was not a morbid fascination with death, but a reverence for the gift of life.

I did forgive Hilde when she gave Lotte a kitten. Kittens will help me forgive almost anyone.

Lotte also uses her love for animals and her amateur taxidermy skills to feel closer to her sister, Annie. We find out towards the end of the story that Annie has also died, though Lotte still feels her presence, especially when searching for her specimens. Lotte’s father is dealing with his own grief, but also eventually supports Lotte’s scientific mind and interest in animals.

This book was absolutely lovely. Heartbreaking in places, but ultimately hopeful. It’s a story about a family’s love for one another, shown in different ways, but very strong and real.
Was this review helpful?
There is so much to say about this book. I’m not sure I can adequately say how it made me feel. Grief is such a weight, such a heavy burden to carry around. Such a hard topic to write about. The way this book made me feel, raw and ripped open. The way it’s verse is written, offering so much more then what’s there. Please go pick this book up. Read it with a cup of tea and be ready to go on a twisty journey. 

I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback. 

#read #reader #book #bookstagram #readersofinstagram #bookreview #greatreads #alwaysreading #reading #ilovebooks #currentreads #bookaddict #booknerd #bookish #bibliophile #goodreads #readerlife #booklife #readandreview
Was this review helpful?
The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot is a novel in verse that explores death and grief as well as how we deal with it all. Novels in verse aren't normally my go-to style, but this is absolutely worthy reading. Due to the style, it can go very quickly if you don't slow down to savor it. Kernot's writing is wonderfully lyrical and rhythmical, yet somewhat spare. It can be a bit repetitive at times though. I wouldn't say the book is exactly exciting, but overall the author handles the topic at hand very well and she writes beautifully. I may need to explore more of Sharon Kernot's writing in the future.
Was this review helpful?
I'll be honest, I didn't realise this novel was written in verse when I started reading it. However, I loved it. The plot itself is very simple - a young girl is struggling to cope with her own grief, and that of everyone around her - and collects dead things, partly out of morbid fascination, but also out of a desire to beauty even in death.

The simplicity (and the heart-breaking sadness that goes with this) is perfect for verse, where the bare bones of a story, and emotions, can be presented in very few words, but in a way that is even more meaningful for the reader.

Or at least, that is how it felt for me.

I loved the slow reveal of the depth of grief that Lottie is experiencing, as well as the added grief and experiences of her own family. During the novel, Lottie is 12-13 years old, which is a time when a young person might experience such adult traumas, but not know how to process them. Lottie's own way of processing these things may be both morbid and macabre, but it works beautifully.

It may be that this is partially due to how short it is, and each small poem could easily be read as a standalone, but I loved the thread of the plot and emotions running through them all. I would gladly read this again.

For me, this would not have had the same impact if it had been told in prose. The Art of Taxidermy came as a real surprise, and I loved every word of it.
Was this review helpful?
I love this book, I though the atmosphere really reminded me of a film that Maggie Smith would be in. It actually made the appreciate the word of taxidermy in context outside of being the villains in the Paddington movie.I had some issues with it (like the black best friends main character trait being that he’s black). Over all would recommend to some but not to most.
Was this review helpful?
I feel bad for another dnf, but these books just haven't been clicking with me lately.

I read the first 45% of this book fairly quickly, it flew by and I could just keep going and going. However, after I had stopped, I wasn't able to make myself pick it back up again. I realized I just didn't have a connection with the characters nor was intrigued by the story and family history that this book seemed to be building to, and with the book needing to be nearing more action/reveals/tension, I didn't think I was going to end up being invested when everything went down.

It's hard to pinpoint where this lack of interest came from. I think some of it definitely came from the general subject matter of the story (or the hobby through which the inner story of our MC is dealt with). While I knew this book would be about taxidermy, dead animals, etc., I guess I hadn't expected the detail? I guess I had assumed it would be backgrounding the larger family story rather than the other way around, and in reality I just don't enjoy reading about dead animal collecting, studying, and attempts at taxidermy of these dead animals. It just made me really uncomfortable at points, and I found myself skimming longer passages that involved these types of scenes. And unfortunately... this was most of the book. At least I know this for next time though, avoid books with a focus on dead animals?

I also wasn't fully enraptured by the verse. I've loved a lot of novels written in verse (most from Ellen Hopkins), but I just didn't mesh well with this particular take. I feel like verse is a little more hit or miss with me than prose, just as poetry is as well, and I honestly didn't feel like this novel benefited much from the verse (from what I read of it, of course). It seemed to read more as just broken up sentences than an actual style, and it just wasn't lyrical for me. I do think others will enjoy it though!

All in all, this book just wasn't for me, but I don't feel like I can judge it 'objectively', as much as anyone ever judges a book objectively. It just had too many things that weren't my taste, but I do feel like this book will find a home on some readers' shelves.
Was this review helpful?
The second novel by Sharon Kernot, The Art of Taxidermy tells the story of a young girl named Lottie. The daughter of German migrants who suffered terribly during the war, Lottie is an outcast at school, with no friends other than her classmate Jeremy, a fellow outsider. Following the death of her mother, Lottie develops a fascination with dead creatures and sets about collecting them and trying to preserve them. But while her father is content to let his daughter nurture her scientific mind, Lottie’s Aunt Hilda is horrified by her disturbing new hobby and aims to put a stop to it.

Written entirely in verse, The Art of Taxidermy is a touching tale of death, grief and love. The story is a fast-paced and engaging read, and as Lottie’s world develops and readers discover more about her life through a series of cleverly constructed twists and turns, it’s almost impossible to put the book down. In relatively few words Sharon Kernot captures Lottie’s grief perfectly, her descriptive prose bringing the young girl’s world and memories of her mother to life. Even those who aren’t avid readers of poetry are sure to fall under Sharon Kernot’s spell as she skilfully conveys Lottie’s thoughts and feelings through lyrical verse as she tries to cope with her loss.

There are few young adult books available on the market which deal with grief and loss, and Sharon Kernot succeeds in conveying Lottie’s anguish and her struggle to make sense of her mother’s death. "I wanted to resurrect them all. I wanted them back breathing real air. I wanted flesh and blood, not ghosts." Lottie sees the beauty in the dead creatures, and the book shows that while Lottie’s fascination with death may be seen as morbid and unnatural to some, it’s in fact a normal response to loss.

With beautiful imagery and a twist guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye, The Art of Taxidermy is a raw, heartbreaking yet hopeful read about a strong, young girl. An insightful look at how children perceive and deal with grief, the novel is sure to strike a chord with anyone who’s ever experienced a bereavement, and will hopefully pave the way for similar stories in the future.
Was this review helpful?
I originally requested this book as my own daughter is really into taxidermy. Can I also say the cover is gorgeous. I was surprise to find the book written in verse. For me personally I rather enjoy books written in verse, I read it, then my daughter read it and we both really enjoyed it. She connected with it as like I said she studies taxidermy as well.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the publisher for an early copy of this book! I think I would have enjoyed this story and the way it is written a lot more if I had read it in the winter time. I just did not enjoy the subject matter or the characters for majority of the story. I did like the writing style of the author though. I just think you have to be in the right mood for this type of story. Its a case of “it’s not the book, it’s me” kind of rating for me.
Was this review helpful?
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was another book that I knew I had to try to get based on the cover first. As soon as I saw it I fell in love with it. It’s stunning! Then when I read the title I was totally sold. I've never read a book that was about taxidermy so this book intrigued me right off the bat. I didn’t realize until the other day that this book was written in verse. I have only read a few other books in the past 6 years that were written like this one and I enjoyed those, so I didn’t think that it would be a problem. Which it wasn’t at all. I thought that it being written in verse added to this story. 
We follow our young main character, Lottie. She is obsessed with all things dead. Something about death is so beautiful to her and she wants to remember these creatures that died so she decides to keep them. Although this is a strange thing for a young lady to do, this is a way for Lottie to cope with death. Her mother died when she was younger and she misses her terribly. Her father, who is such a good father, just wants Lottie to be happy. Lottie’s aunt thinks her obsession with dead animals is unhealthy for a little girl, but her father thinks that she just has a scientists mind. He lets her witness what a taxidermist does, which makes her fall in love with all things taxidermy. She decides she wants to try these things on her own. Once again making her Aunt angry and going to all costs to make Lottie stop being like this. 
I loved Lottie. You could tell that she truly had a passion for recreating things. And this was her way of feeling closer to her mother. This book was so heartbreaking at times, just to see the struggles that Lottie has. I could have read this book in one sitting and it would have taken me maybe 2 hours. It’s a quick read because it is written in verse. But this book packs an emotional punch that even surprised me! 
I recommend this book to everyone! I feel like this is a special book that everyone should read. And the fact that it is a quick read makes it even better.
Was this review helpful?
DNF at 8%. 
I think a lot of it had to do with the copy I received, as the layout was just so confusing that it took concentration away from the plot. On that note, the plot itself seemed so painfully basic that it was almost blocky, there was absolutely no flow to it.
Was this review helpful?

This is the first full length book that I have read in free verse & I wasn’t expecting it. 

It is quick to read and it didn’t take me long to get used to it which was refreshing.

It explores living in a country where you are not accepted, death, friendship, pushbacks from family about what you want to do with your life, loss & grief.

I would definitely try another verse book by this author but it wasn’t really my preferred style.
Was this review helpful?
Firstly I think the use of a certain racial slur was unnecessary. There were other less extreme ones used that I think got the point across plenty well without needing to use the N word.

I also just think this book wasn't for me. I'm not overly fond of verse or flowery writing. But I'm naturally drawn to books about grief as someone who had suffered it. I hoped that I would deeply connect to that portion of the story, but unfortunately I dont think this book was anything special.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ebook copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

This is a story full of grief and dead animals -- a fascinating mix. I have never read a story that had such a strong focus on taxidermy and, to be honest, I enjoyed this. This story follows a young girl who lost her mother at a young age and is being raised by her father and her aunt. One of the ways she copes with her grief is by bringing life back into dead animals she finds. Her aunt is worried about this behavior, but her dad is supportive. This was an interesting take of grief and loss and moving forward.
Was this review helpful?
Not going to lie the cover of this novel caught my attention and that's why I requested it. Later when I started it i realized it's told completely in Poetry Verses. This book was a little bit of a stretch for me and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it! I found her obsession with dead things a Tiny bit creepy! But Death is not a common topic in YA novels, let alone in Fiction either, so kudos to Sharon for touching on that subject!
Was this review helpful?
A lovely book of verse of a young girl who has a fascination with death and finds beauty in it, making her the odd one out to others, especially her Aunt [who loves her but can't understand her]. Her father understands though, death has touched both their lives in major ways and I loved how supportive he was of Lottie. Lottie's relationship with Annie was my favorite part of the novel as well as her finding friendship with Jeffrey. The history behind the characters is beautiful and tragic and steeped in the history of Australia. I felt this was a very lyrical read with a delicate framework of death and life, and their relationship with each other.
Was this review helpful?
I usually avoid poetry books, and I didn't even know this was a poetry book. I just requested it on Netgalley because the cover and blurb seemed attractive.
I'm so glad that I got to read this book, because it was beautiful, small and big at the same time. Sad, but beautiful, yes.

Death: This book was very different from things I usually read. Death is not a celebrated topic in most books. In this book it was the main topic and the way it was portrayed was beautiful. I could appreciate death in the way it was a big part of this book. It also shows a way of coping with grief and the way people mourn in different ways.
Simplicity: The poetry in this book is one of simplicity. The book is so poetic and it's build up out of verses. It's easy to read and easy to understand. The poetry actually made me fall in love with this book, while I usually avoid reading it. Very well done.
German: It was fun to read more of a language that I speak next to Dutch and English. Germany is a part of the story and of the characters life and I liked reading about it in a way that it feels like home.
Small and big: The book feels small, with its short sentences. It contains not as much words as a lot of books with 200+ pages do. But it was so well done that the book felt small, but at the same time very big. The message in this book is big, the emotions are big, the depth of everything that happened, all very big.
Answers: You are gradually getting your answers with a little plot twist here and there. I felt that all the answers came at the right moment and there were some things that I didn't see coming. So next to being poetic, the book has some mystery and I was seeking for answers.

Birds: I am not a bird person, I don't know much about all the different species and English is not my native language. So that made it sometimes a bit difficult to picture. Birds are a big part of this book and I just didn't feel like looking up the birds every time, because that got me distracted.

Small, yet big. Cryptic, yet easy to understand. A book that made me believe that maybe I can love poetry. A small book with a big story, big emotions and revelations. Definitely worth your time, even if you're not sure you will like poetry!
Was this review helpful?
This book is absolutely wonderful. I was intrigued to read a verse novel, as it wasn't a style I'd read before - and I'm so glad I did. I was just transported away into this world. I loved this book.

The theme of grief is heavy, as we explore the reactions to death of not only main character Lottie, but her father and other family members. Developing an intense interest in taxidermy as a way to capture a spark of life, Lottie collects dead birds and attempts to preserve them. Her father recognises her talent and begins to nurture her passion - whilst Lottie is dealing with revulsion from her aunt.

As the story progresses, we are shown the ways in which Lottie's family were treated as immigrants to Australia in World War 2. I found myself thinking about their story for a long while afterwards - and I'm definitely going to pick up a physical copy of this beautiful book.
Was this review helpful?
'The Art of Taxidermy' by Sharon Kernot is an intriguing, flowing read.

A quick yet detail-packed read: The Art of Taxidermy took me by surprise and changed my mind about reading verse for pleasure.

I knew very little going into this book. The description sounded fascinating and unlike anything I have read before, and so I wasted no time diving in. 

The verse format took me by surprise (although had I paid more attention in the first place I would have anticipated it). However, I believe this was a good thing for me, as I have been known to avoid verse in the past. I am glad I didn't this time -- the format was beautiful, and demonstrated the huge talent Kernot has.

The writing was well thought out. Sharon Kernot portrays so much emotion through her carefully chosen words. Some sections would only be two or three verses long -- and yet they were packed with inferences that had me wondering.

The story unfolds from Lottie's point of view. I found her age difficult to judge throughout the book, as there is really only one indicator that stood out to me. It could be the format that made it difficult for a particular voice to come through for Lottie. Her thought pattern and the way she voiced questions often seemed simplistic, making her appear younger than she was.

There is much mystery in this book, with Kernot hinting at things that the reader must work out for themselves. I really enjoyed this element, as different truths came to light with the more I read. A definite explanation was then given towards the end of the book, which connected all the elements more firmly.

I thought the characters were interesting in that they are different from the usual characters I read. Lottie's family are German, but they moved to Australia before Lottie was born to escape Nazi Germany. Lottie's grandfather and father were imprisoned in Australia, with her mother and grandmother left to work the land. This backstory was incredibly rich. It meant that Lottie had issues to navigate in her own life because of her heritage. I found it fascinating to read something from such a perspective.

The element of taxidermy was unique also. It weaves through each poem beautifully and helps in portraying each character, through their reaction to Lottie's unconventional interest. It is an unusual skill and career path to Lottie's aunt -- as it is for many of us today. However, I found it refreshing to read about something I know little of.

Kernot explores so many themes and so many different and interesting ideas that I could end up talking about them for days! Instead, I suggest picking up the book for yourself and exploring Lottie's world.

4.8 stars
Overall, I thought this book was beautifully written and I am glad I chose to read it. It has completely changed my perspective on verse novels, and so I will be much more likely to pick them up in the future.

Sharon Kernot has done a wonderful job at telling a loaded tale, with a quirky and defiant young girl at its centre.

Review goes live 13/08/2019 @ 6pm BST.
Was this review helpful?
I really liked the sound of this novel, but I have to admit it was a bit of a stretch for me. I should have thought about whether I wanted to read a complete verse novel when requesting this via NetGalley. The answer, apparently, is no. 

So, no reflection on this novel, which is beautifully written but I couldn't settle into the style.  Reading other reviews, I can see that readers loved this so do please don't take my view on this!
Was this review helpful?