Wednesday, April 10, 2024

{I've Been Reading} Every Living Thing - The Great and Deadly Race to Know All Life


Every Living Thing - The Great and Deadly Race to Know All Life Jason Roberts 

This is the story of Carl Linnaeus and Georges-Louis de Buffon, two scientists who were determined to document all life on earth and who both vastly underestimated how many plants and animals existed. Based on the book's description, I had hoped that the author would spend more time on the search for specimens.  It's long and a bit dry, covering the lives of Linnaeus and Buffon in exhausting detail. There were some sections I found absolutely fascinating,  but overall I slogged through it. 

A Botanical Daughter by Noah Medlock

Imagine two men living in a vast greenhouse, the only structure that survived after a fire took the adjoining manor house. Living walls separate the rooms. Humidity is taking a toll on everything, especially the grand piano. Gregor deals in exotic plants.  Simon creates whimsical taxidermy in his basement retreat. Once Gregor realizes that his newly imported sample of fungus seems to be intelligent and capable of movement, he sets out to see how much it's capable of. Before he's done, he's created Chloe, a walking, talking, sometimes angry combination of plants. Something about old glass greenhouses has always intrigued and fascinated me and the setting of this book was incredibly vivid. The story itself is hauntingly beautiful and it left me wondering if the parts I found most horrifying were what the author intended. It wasn't the grisly deaths that got to me, it was the awful lack of consent. (And one particularly explicit scene near the end of the book.) 

Grey Dog by Elliott Gish

This creepy folk horror is set in 1901, told through the writings of Ada Byrd, a school teacher who has accepted a post in a small town to escape the scandal that caused her to leave her last teaching position. Ada is fascinated by the owl skull and feathers and bits of stuff she finds in the woods. Not every thing she finds out there, though, is natural. The thing waiting for her in the woods is unsettling, but I found myself more horrified by the idea of how powerles Ada was against the members of her new community. The unpleasant depictions of pregnancy and childbirth also got to me. 

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. 

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