Book Review: Past Mortems

Past Mortems: Life and death behind mortuary doors by Carla Valentine

I don’t know about you guys but I’ve always had a burning anxiety about what happens to your mortal shell after you’ve left it behind and are out there spooking the living daylights out of people (we all have our own afterlife beliefs, I know!).

Whether it’s a morbid human curiosity or a genuine worry, my ignorance was quenched with this book!! Carla Valentine’s book is a telling of her career as an Anatomical Pathology Technologist or mortician (either sound pretty professional and interesting!).

The book speaks of technical terms and procedures that are respectfully carried out on the deceased which is something I have never known, and I find strange since death is the only thing we all have in common. This is what I loved most about this book, and Carla’s explaining of her job and all the other things that go into respectfully handling the dead is such a reassuring read, from a scientific or just a human perspective, there is no awkwardness or jumping around subjects, each process is respectfully explained, leaving no (kidney) stone unturned!! *ba dum tss* (sorry, I just really love puns).

A book that is not only scientific but much more humorous than my stupid pun! Past Mortems has a harmonious balance between darkness and light, Carla Valentine approaches the subject of death with a professional brain and a human heart. Some chapters are deeply moving and show the true strength of an APT (Anatomical Pathology Technician, there are loads of abbreviations involved behind mortuary doors!).

Why I think you should read this book:

  • INFORMATION! I have a whole new appreciation for a job that I knew very little about! death is such a difficult subject to breach, that in my 23 years of existence I’ve never known what goes into the care and studies of a human after they die. Of course, if you have a queasy disposition when it comes to blood, human organs and scientific jargon, then this might not be the book for you, but I’d still promote it, as APT’s and every other job revolved around death should be applauded and we should know about the brave and hard work they do.
  • Carla Valentine! I have followed her on Twitter and Instagram for a while, and her ability to approach such subjects as death or medical conditions is a true talent! you can hear the passion for her job in every sentence.
  • IT’S SUPER BLOODY INTERESTING!

For more information check out Carla Valentine’s official website: The Chick and the Dead

 

Where to buy this book:

Amazon

Audible

Waterstones

Foyles

Wordery

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (6 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751565326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751565324
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.3 x 23.4 cm

‘The Wicked Boy’ – Best Book I Read Last Year

The first question i’ve chosen is: ‘Best book you read last year’ and i’ve chosen ‘The Wicked Boy’ by Kate Summerscale.
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This was my favourite book last year for many reasons (here we go!)

 

As a lover of history, thrillers and anything slightly macabre and morbid, this book grabbed me the moment I read the description. What’s even more macabre and morbid is that it’s a true story!

 

Victorian London is that moment in history where everything was just creepy. All things happening under a blanket of darkness, a moment that’s just close enough to seem familiar, but so far back everything is unknown.

 

And this book tells the tale of a child growing up in that fog…and killing his mum (that’s not a spoiler, that’s the whole point of this book!)

 

Kate Summerscale follows Robert Coombes and his brother Nattie around London after the deed is done. It shows how children’s imagination can make almost anything disappear as they live unfettered by apron strings.
But Summerscale also records the fall out, the discovery of the tragic killing, and the bizarre witnessing of a thirteen year old stood accused of murder in front of judge and jury.
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What I loved most about this book is the portrayal of Robert, through records and discovering his path through life, Summerscale has uncovered the truth that he was just a human, confused and mentally ill as a child, but still human. His adult life is described in this book with amazing detail and I couldn’t help but feel relief and almost happy for Robert as I turned the last page of the book.

 

Why I think you should read this book:

  1. The research done to create this timeline is phenomenal, newspaper articles and police statements, even records of Robert as he grew into adulthood. No stone is left unturned
  2.  That fascination for the weird and dark parts of life and history that we all have within
    us is definitely satisfied. I did indeed gasp and knit my brow as I read about the murder and concealment of the body (how did they continue to live in that house?! They were only children!! *gasp*)
  3.  IT REALLY HAPPENED
  4. The end of the book tells you what happened to Robert post-murdering his mother. Which is INTERESTING!
  5.  Old newspaper articles, pictures and illustrations are referenced inside the book which show how villainous Robert was portrayed to be, and how this story captivated the city.

 

Where to buy this book:

Amazon

Waterstones

Foyles

 

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; First Edition edition (29 April 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408851148
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408851142