I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Most people have a secret or two hidden away inside. Some big, some small, some inconsequential, others life changing. Cora Lee’s secret, tucked away, has been beating steadily away since the moment she was born, giving her life yet also threatening it.
Cora was born on the wrong side of the blanket, illegitimate – and with two hearts, a secret she must safeguard always. For this is the time of resurrectionists, when even the dead are not even safe from harm. Cadavers are in demand for scientific and medical studies, and those with “oddities” and differences can fetch a top price. Cora makes her living grave robbing, choosing to steal the bodies of the rich and well to do, feeling the poor suffer enough in life. This occupation though dangerous in itself, actually helps keep Cora safe. For the girl with two hearts is legend, The Impossible Girl, whose corpse would fetch a fortune.
I absolutely loved this book. The underworld of grave robbing, the flash language, the evolution of medicine and science, particularly for women (Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell even makes an appearance in the book!), the idea of anatomical anomalies put on display for entertainment – there was so much to read in this book, if that makes sense. So much content that set your mind imagining. I also enjoyed Kang’s drawing on the themes of duality. Cora’s hearts, her job that keeps her safe yet puts her in danger, upper class vs. lower class, as well as a few other things that I will leave unsaid, as not to give anything away.
I have read and loved Kang’s A Beautiful Poison and The November Girl, but I believe The Impossible Girl is her best to date that I have read. It was an interesting, thought provoking read, and it was a perfect start to my October.