Cover Image: The Art of Taxidermy

The Art of Taxidermy

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Member Reviews

The novel is written in verse
and explores love, death, grief, beauty, and the ways that people try to make sense of it all. It’s written in free verse, and it’s b e a u t i f u l. It was a slow start and took me some time to get into as it’s not a style I’m used to reading and the eBook formatting was strange, but each section is quite short and it’s broken up by illustrations like those on the cover. I do think it lacked the depth and description of an ‘actual’ novel, but I was still happy with this way of telling the story.

There’s a discussion about indigenous people and a side character – Lottie’s friend – is an Aboriginal boy. It took me a while to notice that this book was set in Australia, and I’ve never read a book featuring an Aboriginal character, so this was something I appreciated as a reader and as someone who wants to learn more.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that Lottie’s family are Germans who emigrated to Australia during World War II, and there is a lot of interesting discussion about the family history.

My one issue?
It was boring. So little happens that when something does happen it feels repetitive or forced. The book discusses a lot of sad and emotional topics, but I found it difficult to connect to them. I think this might be because Lottie seems entirely disinterested in anything that doesn’t involve taxidermy or dead animals, so it was hard to get to know her as a character and find out why I should care about her and her story.

In summary, I liked this book. The middle sections were slow and there were a few sections I wasn’t interested in as an individual, but I appreciate how this book discusses the complexity of grief.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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I was really excited to read this book. I don't read a whole lot of verse novels, but I liked the somewhat macabre nature of this young woman's interests and decided to give it a shot. I really wanted to love it, and I tried to love it, but I simply couldn't. The most interesting bits about the novel to me were the very end, the rest I struggled through. The writing was beautiful and it flowed so smoothly, but the story was lacking, and I don't feel like that can be covered up with beautiful language. I started reading this novel, got about 25% through it, and then put it down for two weeks. I was just so bored.

Lottie is going through a lot that a young girl/teenager shouldn't have to go through. She is working through the grief surrounding the deaths of her mother and sister. She is working through the difficulties of being a young girl with 'unorthodox' interests. She is from a German immigrant family in a time closely following WWII. She has an Aunt who cares about her very much, but only wants to see her fit into the box of what an ideal young girl should be and what her interests are in. She has a father who is dealing with his own grief and is generally very stoic. She is dealing with a lot, and most of it doesn't really come to head until the very end of the novel. Getting there took some time, and it wasn't necessarily an enjoyable time. There is a lot there in terms of what Lottie is dealing with. But so much of the verse in the novel is spent describing birds (which I understand is because Lottie loves them and has an interest in taxidermy). But instead of spending that time learning more about Lottie and how she is thinking/feeling, I learned about the various bird species of Australia and how beautiful they are.

Overall, I think the novel would have benefited far more greatly if it discussed and explored more of Lottie's feelings and her relationships with her family. I didn't feel like I got any of that until the very end of the novel, and it's the parts I liked best. I was also surprised at how seemingly abrupt the ending was. Lottie's family seems to finally understand her and her interest and accept that, and then it just ends. There is no further exploration of her becoming fully realized as a young woman or her relationships changing because she is finally allowed to be who she wants to be and grieve how she wants to grieve. Beautiful writing, but the elements of a good story were generally lacking and just left me feeling bored, trying to quickly read through to get to something I actually found interesting.

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The concept of this story is one that drew me in immediately. It’s about a young girl exploring the intricacies of life and death through the study of taxidermy, with the support of her father and much to the dismay of her late mother’s sister. And it’s told in verse! I have a weakness for verse lately, making this a quick read.

However, I found that the execution of the story was a disappointment. It felt like something was always missing, I always wanted more: I wanted to know more about Lottie and her family, I wondered why certain things were being left unexplained, I wanted to know more about Lottie’s actual studies with the stuffing of animals instead of her just staring at them. Something would be set up and then would just end.

Kernot did not provide the artistic insight to taxidermy that the title led me to hope, and often seemed to have the same tone in writing as the aunt had against Lottie, as if the reader was supposed to think she was crazy as well. My hypothesis is just that the story did not translate well to verse, as I feel the plot line itself had great bone structure.

All in all, I gave it 3 stars. It feels a little generous, but I the concept alone was enough to provide a pretty good cushion. There are some graphic scenes about dead animals and vivid death imagery in general. If this is something you can look past, it’s not a bad read.

Thanks again to NetGalley and Text Publishing Company for sending me a copy of this book!

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This wonderful book is written in verse and is based around the 1980's. It's the first type of verse book that I have read, it did not disappoint.

The story focuses around Lottie, who is silently struggling with the loss of her mother, the book flits between the past and present whilst giving a glimpse at what her family were like when they were still alive.

As Lottie begins to have a fascination with Taxidermy, family members try everything to make the little girl she should be and not the girl Lottie wants to be. The writing and story telling in itself is I would say beautifully morbid, there's a love and sadness that grows within the book and the use of imagery is beautiful.

It showed how each character portrayed different stages of grief and how they deal with their own sadness and loss which was a very interesting interpretation.

Without giving too much away, I thoroughly enjoyed this book more than I thought I would and I would highly recommend. Also, can I just point out that the cover works is absolutely gorgeous, the book itself is a beautiful tale. However, if you are squeamish towards certain animal natures, then I would tell you to read lightly.

The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot is a tremendous read and I can't wait for more of her work to follow.

The book will be released in the UK by Text Publishing Company on the 23rd August 2019 and I would strongly suggest picking it up.

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Overall, I really enjoyed the exploration of death and grief in this novel. The only criticism that I had was of the sudden insertion of the Nazi Germany/alternative WWII setting. It seemed to cheapen the overall message for me. I think that the narrative was strong enough without the need for this subplot. Death need not be extravagant or due to grand things like war. I liked the simplicity of death outside of that plot point. It made it more real.

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It is important to know what you are getting into, before reading this book. So stating the obvious - this is a poetry book. Not easily read and not everyones cup of tea. If you enjoy "darker" more serious themes in your poetry books, this is for you. I would pass this book, but only because the theme didn't suit me.

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(netgalley arc)
-it's told in a beautiful verse
-the cover is just wow 💛
-the story wasn't really a story.... It felt more like this girl's journey through grief with the taxidermy.
-and that wasn't bad. I enjoyed it paired with what we were just studying about children going through the stages of grief.
-I enjoyed all the descriptions and flashbacks and how some things weren't what they seemed.

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The Art of Taxidermy is a book written in verse about death and grief. I found this very well done and engrossing. I hope to read more by this author.

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Full review up at

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a quick but captivating read. I was hooked from the first page and couldn't put it down. Bravo. Will definitely be purchasing this for my library.

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This was one that did not click with me as much as I was hoping. When I came across The Art of Taxidermy on NetGalley, the title and cover art immediately intrigued me. Then, when I saw that it was written in verse, I immediately hit the request button. Verse novels are my absolute favorite, so it's a pretty guaranteed way to get me to read your book.

Sharon Kernot really is a great poet. Her words are beautiful and flow together so well, creating excellent imagery and emotion. The way she manages to explore the topic of grief in this novel was incredible. Lottie deals with the death of her mother in an honest and heartbreaking way that I was able to relate to after the loss of my nana.

One thing that bothered me about this story though was I didn't understand why it was being told. Yes, the words were beautiful, but I needed more of a driving force behind them. Lottie's story was incredibly interesting with her fascination with dead animals and the desire to preserve them, but there didn't seem to be a reason as to why Kernot decided to share it with us. This missing piece caused me to have an overall feeling of boredom throughout the time it took me to read the book. A lot of the poems also felt repetitious after a while.

I am glad that I took the time to read The Art of Taxidermy, and I definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys novels in verse or the macabre. I was so glad to see that Lottie stayed true to who she was throughout the novel despite her aunt's best efforts. This is a very unique story, and I know the subject matter won't jive with everybody, but it was nice to see something out there for those of us that like things others find abnormal or gross. I'm definitely interested in reading more by Sharon Kernot, and I truly hope she continues to write poetry.

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A thoughtful and haunting tale told in free verse. Lottie is a young girl struggling with the loss of her mother, and her sorrow translates into a peculiar interest in death. Much to the alarm and disgust of her family, she begins to collect dead things. Luckily I missed the "poetry" label when I received this book - the unusual format might have turned me off from reading it, and that would have been such a shame. Though not my favorite device, the flowing free verse suits the material – lending it a morose, dream-like quality. The Art of Taxidermy is a surprisingly lovely and tender story of grief and the preservation of life, love, and memories. It's a quick, memorable read.

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A book written in verse that is fundamentally about Taxidermy, but is also about loss and grief, about friendship and being who you want to be despite what others say or feel. This book is relatively short, but it packs lots in and still manages to be written with such vivid description of the land and the animals.
I sped through this in a couple of sittings and was really immersed. Highly recommend

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This book wasn't what I was expecting. I don't tend to read alot of poetry or verse but I still like the way this book read. It was easy to read and everything in the story made sense.
The story is very dark and shows how a girl who has suffered losses and uses the art of taxidermy to make her understand them.
It's a very dark story focusing around an interesting concept.
The book had lots of lovely verses that were written beautifully.

I wouldn't say this book was bad, because it wasn't, although personally I don't think it was for me.

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This is very different in writing style to the novels I usually read, but the verse style suited it well. A story of grief and death and how we handle these emotions and move forward trying to make something useful of our experiences and feelings. I enjoyed it.

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Macabre and uncanny, this is a novel that I would have adored as a weird, not-quite-cool-enough-to-be-goth teenager. Narrated in verse, it follows amateur-taxidermist Lottie as she grapples with grief, gender expectations and the ramifications of being German in post-WW2 Australia.

The twists through the novel are navigated with care -- a young girl’s discovery of her family secrets and her own sense of self, rather than for shock-value or any sense of “gotcha”. It is an often heartbreaking foray into one family’s trauma and their responses to a multitude of loss. That said, Lottie is a rather self-absorbed narrator, and whilst that’s absolutely fitting for her characterisation and story, it does leave some things rather lacking: Aunt Hilda feels a little flat, relegated in the main to representing outdated gender roles, and Jeffrey feels woefully underused -- in a story about being an outsider, sidelining a displaced Aboriginal character feels somewhat uncomfortable, and Lottie’s white gaze is not so fully address as to ever not sit uneasily.

The poetry is both beautiful and easy to read. Kernot’s description of nature in particular is evocative and precise, and she counterbalances a reverence for animals both living and dead with a scientific fascination that enthralled even this rather squeamish reader.

Overall, it’s a charming novel, and would serve as an ideal intro to verse narrative for middle/secondary school readers -- I’ll be putting a copy into my class library. 3.5 stars, rounded up for its quirky originality and lingering poetry.

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Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this book. This one just fell short for me. It took me a while to realize that it was historical fiction (not necessarily a bad thing, since that wasn't the main point of the plot.) But the overall emotional arc of it just didn't work. This is mainly because the overall emotional arc of the book is more told than shown--Lottie spent more time talking about how taxidermy is a way of preserving/reviving life and less time showing us the grief that causes her to find joy in it.

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The Art of Taxidermy is an evocative, effervescent and eviscerating short story, following the journey of a plucky young girl who confronts grief and sexism head on.

Australian author, Sharon Kernot, introduces the reader to bottlebrush trees whose “fallen flowers created perfect red circles like pools of blood.” These and other trees and natural landscapes provide the backdrop for a series of unfortunate creatures which become the focus for young Lottie’s growing obsession with death. Yet before her preservation skills can develop, her collections have an unfortunate habit of stinking out her bedroom.

“Taxidermist? I tried this new word, rolled it around in my mind and my mouth.”

The lyrical prose is written without speech marks, and is a fast-paced and moving read. Most readers will devour the book in about an hour, and I wished it were longer. But be warned, the words and emotions will linger long after, and a second reading will beckon.

“We studied the birds: sparrows, galahs, magpies. We watched the way they moved – their waddle, their flit, their hope, the stretch of their wings and the way they cocked their heads. I thought of my mangled lorikeet. It is a raggedy bird full of dead cotton.”

At its heart this is a hopeful and powerful story about dealing with grief by celebrating the beauty of death.

The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot will be published by The Text Publishing Company in August 2019.

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I don't read a lot of poetry or verse, but the cover to this drew me in. The Art of Taxidermy is brief, but lets you have a real connection to a lost girl. Lottie is, and has lost. She finds that by keeping things, even dead things, she's able to be more. Her push back against a well-intentioned (but aren't they all well-intentioned?) aunt and a trying-his-best father are a brief, but intense read into the world of a unique girl

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*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Although I'm quite squeamish, I have been fascinated by the art of taxidermy and the mindset behind such an artistic medium since reading English Animals last year. This beautiful cover instantly drew me in and when I learned it was written in verse, I just had to pick it up. 

I ended up reading this in one sitting. As it is written in verse, each section is quite short and there are illustrations such as those on the cover that break up the story also.

This is quite a sad read. A lot of Lottie's experiences and interests revolve around death and there are many instances of quite grotesque animal imagery throughout. However, I didn't find that off-putting at all. I enjoyed the way that the author used Lottie's interest in taxidermy to contrast with her aunt's societal expectations of her as a woman. The discussion surrounding the concept of taxidermy and whether it is morbid or wrong in some way were fascinating. On the other hand, I felt like I would have liked a little bit more from these discussions, particularly the idea of gender and what types of jobs are "proper" for a woman to be interested in compared to a man.

Overall, I liked this book. It was a quick read that I read in one sitting and I would definitely read something else by this author again in the future. If you like novels written in verse, I would recommend you give this a go.

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The Art of Taxidermy is about a girl who is fascinated by dead animals, which may be because of the past deaths of her sister and mother. While I'm not particularly a fan of books in verse, since I think they lack the depth and description of an actual novel, I was fairly pleased with this story. The Art of Taxidermy had a good message that I could get even from the few words that are in this book. I loved the fact that the main character made a career out of her interest in the deceased at the end. I also thought it was satisfying that she came to terms with the deaths of two of her family members.

The Art of Taxidermy was a quick read, but it was worth my time. In fact, this is one of the better poetry novels I've gotten through. I recommend this book to those who like books in verse-- and even those who don't.

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