Two hearts. Twice as vulnerable.
Manhattan, 1850. Born out of wedlock to a wealthy socialite and a nameless immigrant, Cora Lee can mingle with the rich just as easily as she can slip unnoticed into the slums and graveyards of the city. As the only female resurrectionist in New York, she’s carved out a niche procuring bodies afflicted with the strangest of anomalies. Anatomists will pay exorbitant sums for such specimens—dissecting and displaying them for the eager public.
Cora’s specialty is not only profitable, it’s a means to keep a finger on the pulse of those searching for her. She’s the girl born with two hearts—a legend among grave robbers and anatomists—sought after as an endangered prize.
Now, as a series of murders unfolds closer and closer to Cora, she can no longer trust those she holds dear, including the young medical student she’s fallen for. Because someone has no intention of waiting for Cora to die a natural death.
I requested The Impossible Girl because I’ve been wanting to read more crime and this sounded like an excellent choice. I was fascinated in the premise: the two hearts, grave robbing, and a being a lone woman in a man’s world. I will admit that I assumed this book would be fantasy as well – which it isn’t.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.
Wow! I adored this book. I was absolutely fascinated by it, even though it turned out not to be fantasy. I loved how solid the research felt and it felt like it was firmly placed in a certain time of history. The historical aspects entwined with the mystery and medical aspects created an unputdownable story.
I’ve always been fascinated by the history of grave robbing and why people did this job. Putting a biracial woman in this setting allowed for the reader to explore the circumstances with more detail, as it allows for more exploration into how gender and race may have influenced the circumstances.
The matter of the two hearts was interesting to follow, and I kept wanting to know what it was. I was happy that this matter was resolved and that it wasn’t supernatural in nature.
The references to Burke and Hare, infamous Scottish murderers who smothered their victims and sold their bodies, were wonderful. Burke and Hare lived in Edinburgh, and since I lived in Edinburgh until a few months ago, this connection was lovely. However, the book does insinuate that Burking is murdering people for the sake of selling the body, even though the term is used to mean death by smothering in Scotland (which is the murder method that Burke and Hare used).
The characters were unbelievably detailed, every single one of them. This is something I find several books that I’ve read this year lack, so I was very happy with this. I also very much enjoyed learning more about Cora’s thoughts, and when she was afraid that her colleagues would take advantage of the situation, I could understand her thought process thoroughly.
I adored this book so much. It’s a fascinating combination of historical fiction, medical fiction, and mystery. You learn so much about the history of grave robbing through it, and it’s a dramatic read.
Trigger warnings: attempted rape, grave robbing, murder, sexual assault.
Have you read The Impossible Girl? Have you read any other books by Lydia Kang? What would you recommend?