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The Impossible Girl

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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. Anatom 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.


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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. Anatom 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.

30 review for The Impossible Girl

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amalia Gavea

    "The impossible girl with two hearts." One of the most controversial, grim and fascinating aspects of the Victorian era was the exhumation and selling of corpses for medical purposes. The advancing need for therapies over a multitude of ailments made the demand of knowledge of the human body and the way it fights against disease made these criminal actions flourish, the perpetrators earned a small fortune. I've always been drawn to novels dedicated to this subject and "The Impossible Girl" won "The impossible girl with two hearts." One of the most controversial, grim and fascinating aspects of the Victorian era was the exhumation and selling of corpses for medical purposes. The advancing need for therapies over a multitude of ailments made the demand of knowledge of the human body and the way it fights against disease made these criminal actions flourish, the perpetrators earned a small fortune. I've always been drawn to novels dedicated to this subject and "The Impossible Girl" won me over with the New York setting, the curiosities, the promise of a multidimensional female protagonist. There was one more reason I wanted to read Kang's novel. One of my all-time favourite books is "The Dress Lodger" by Sheri Holman, a story of a young prostitute in London during the Victorian era and her baby who was born with the heart out of his chest. If you haven't read it, you must but be warned, it is quite a dark read. "The Impossible Girl" proved to be very different, though. It is not perfect but it is well-written, atmospheric and a very engaging combination of Historical Fiction and Mystery. New York, 1850. Cora is a resurrectionist, a woman in a man's profession. She has to disguise herself in order to have a future in this enterprise and support herself and the parasites who live with her. This isn't Cora's sole peculiar characteristic. Cora was born with two hearts and must defend herself from a scum who wants to create a museum of "curiosities", one of the most pervasive notions in History, so "fashionable" during the Victorian era. Her path is crossed with Theodore Flint's, a strange young man (their first meeting is absolutely perfect, by the way) and her troubles have no end.... "The poor died in such dreadfully ordinary ways." Unusual Medicine is successfully combined with a number of important issues that troubled the Victorian societies. Many of these problems continue to trouble us today, in our advanced era. The stealing of bodies for profit became the means for the advance of anatomy and the expansion of the knowledge of the mechanisms used by the human body. However, this doesn't dispute the fact that it was a crime. Cora may use a million excuses but the result is the same. The motive is money. Kang addresses the issue and demonstrates that the boundary that separates the need for scientific research and the disrespect towards the body of a deceased human being is nonexistent. And this isn't the only wound of the society of The Impossible Girl. The "museums" of "curiosities" are known to all of us through books, films, TV series. The Bearded Ladies, the Incredibly Strong Man, the Mermaid, the Two-Headed Boys etc. In this novel, the museum creates an environment that resembles death in life and exhibits people who aren't creations of tricks, make-up and illusions. These are human beings with strange medical ailments. As if this isn't enough, there is a killer who targets these unfortunate souls and Cora is among the candidates. Kang also comments on the illegal bet, another plague of the time. This environment becomes even more claustrophobic and threatening within a society, a city that changes. A country that needs to change. New York is a city blessed with diversity, a beehive of beliefs, customs and vigorous commerce but the society Kang creates is anything but accepting. The islands hide more than they let show, they breed mystery and danger, contradictions, inequality, injustice. Despite her considerable status, Cora is frowned upon because she is a woman, a creature everyone thinks ripe to fall into the hands of any man, and because she is of mixed heritage. She may mingle with the upper society but she isn't one of them. And then, there is Dr Blackwell, a brilliant doctor who must fight against prejudices because she is a woman.... Kang creates a faithful Victorian atmosphere and excels in nightly scenes that are crucial to the story. It is properly gritty, dark and ambiguous and I was able to picture the streets, the market, the graveyard with ease. However, there were a couple of problems, in my opinion. The dialogue is suffering a bit, at times, sounding a little more contemporary than it should. In addition, there was a significant portion of repetition over the same issues, not wholly bothersome but a bit tiring at times. It distracted me from the scenery, the background of the story. The way I see it, the novel could have been 50-60 pages shorter. "Not every woman needs a man to take care of her." Cora is a thoroughly engaging character. A strong, determined, complex woman. However, some of her desicions were highly questionable given the way her character was initially constructed but probably sentiment and desperation guide us to wholly unwise choices. Flint is a difficult character, as he should be. A dubious, enigmatic but charismatic man. Now, Leah is the main reason I didn't fully enjoy the novel. she is immensely irritating, absolutely stupid and I have no tolerance towards idiots. An idiot who thinks she has the right to dictate and order. It is Leah who has the worst dialogue parts in the book and significantly lowered the overall quality of the story. She is easily one of the most disgusting creatures I've ever met in a novel.Because of Leah's dreadful presence, one star flew away with her and her clanging pots. Also, her role was too predictable.Thus, the 4-star raring. And don't even get me started on Alexander's character.... Kang's The Impossible Girl isn't just your average Historical Fiction/Mystery novel that have (fortunately) become so popular lately. She has taken the best of these worlds and, despite the few issues, she writes about difficult themes that are executed with elegance and sensitivity. The result is atmospheric, beautiful writing with the right amounts of sassy and spicy without becoming disrespectful. "There are murmurs that they are coming for me. My body goes to God one way or another; I know this now. Have at it, you beasts. You are the ones rotting from within, not I. Not anymore." Many thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Looking for something a bit darker to read for the fall season? How about some grave robbing and human anomalies? The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang just might be that book you are searching for then. A historical fiction tale with a bit of mystery this one is certainly fitting for the time of year. In 1830 Charlotte and her maid Leah were helping a young mother with the birth of her baby as the family wanted nothing to do with her or the out of wedlock child she carried. After the baby was born h Looking for something a bit darker to read for the fall season? How about some grave robbing and human anomalies? The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang just might be that book you are searching for then. A historical fiction tale with a bit of mystery this one is certainly fitting for the time of year. In 1830 Charlotte and her maid Leah were helping a young mother with the birth of her baby as the family wanted nothing to do with her or the out of wedlock child she carried. After the baby was born however the mother suffered some complications so a doctor was called but it was too late to save her. While there the doctor examined the baby and found she was born with two hearts and suggested she become a specimen for testing in which Charlotte of course was immediately offended. By 1850 that baby had grown into a young woman named Cora who had come to know she had to remain hidden. Charlotte was now gone but she had done her best raising Cora by pretending until her teen years she had been a boy to hide from the rumors of the girl with two hearts. Now Cora has gone into the business of procuring corpses with anomalies to sell for medical studies to keep an inside eye on the business and whether or not anyone still believed the rumors of her own birth. The Impossible Girl had a bit of everything wrapped into it really. You get transported back to the mid 1800’s during a time when the medical field was full on learning how to treat patients and a time of the side show spectacles. There’s danger and murders which brings in action to the story, a splash of romance and the touch of just plain creepiness thinking of trolling the graves. Wrap all of it together with one tough as nails main character making her way in a man’s world as she dodges threats from all angles and this one definitely would be one I’d recommend checking out. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kylie D

    WOW! This book had me more hooked than any other I've read in a long while! It is a brilliant, original novel that looks into grave robbing and body snatchers in the mid 1800s. It follows the story of Cora, the only female resurrectionist in New York, as she and her team dig up recently buried bodies and sell them to the highest bidder. Cora has built a network of doctors who tell her of unusual cases among their patients, for Cora specialises in those that are afflicted with anatomical anomalies WOW! This book had me more hooked than any other I've read in a long while! It is a brilliant, original novel that looks into grave robbing and body snatchers in the mid 1800s. It follows the story of Cora, the only female resurrectionist in New York, as she and her team dig up recently buried bodies and sell them to the highest bidder. Cora has built a network of doctors who tell her of unusual cases among their patients, for Cora specialises in those that are afflicted with anatomical anomalies, and institutions will pay a higher price for those bodies. She has compiled a watch list of people that suffer from these afflictions and watches them from afar, waiting for them to pop off from their mortal coil, attending their funerals, and later that night returning to the gravesite to dig them up. However, people from her own watch list have started disappearing or dying of unnatural causes before their time.Then one day Cora receives a wish list from one of the buyers, it's a list of desirable traits in a body, and the prices to be paid for them. Cora's isn't the only team to receive this list, and it includes, among other things, a girl with two hearts. There has been a bit of a legend around body snatchers that such a girl exists, but nobody knows for sure. Nobody except Cora, for Cora's closely guarded secret is that she is that girl, the girl with two hearts! I found myself racing through this book, having to find out what happens to Cora, as those that mean her harm get closer to discovering her secret, and how she would thwart them. Lydia Kang has crafted an unputdownable novel, full of intrigue and suspense. It's well researched, I am now enlightened on many matters of grave robbing and human anatomy, and gives a good inkling of the lifestyle of our characters at the time the novel is set in. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of mystery, intrigue and suspense. My thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Felicia

    "The girl with two hearts, too impossible to have truly been born." The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang is listed as Adult General Fiction/Women's Fiction which is why I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is a mystery book more than anything. And a stellar mystery book at that as I did not, not even once, consider the twist when the murderer is finally revealed Set in the mid 1800's and written in third person, The Impossible Girl follows Cora, a resurrectionist, aka a grave robber, that "The girl with two hearts, too impossible to have truly been born." The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang is listed as Adult General Fiction/Women's Fiction which is why I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is a mystery book more than anything. And a stellar mystery book at that as I did not, not even once, consider the twist when the murderer is finally revealed Set in the mid 1800's and written in third person, The Impossible Girl follows Cora, a resurrectionist, aka a grave robber, that procures bodies of people with medical anomalies and sells them to those that wish to study and/or profit from their demise. Cora herself being born with two hearts, is the most sought after anomaly of them all and thus her life is in danger from those wishing to profit from her death. I enjoyed this book very much. It is a very fast read with a story unlike anything I have ever come across. There is a separate chapter from the viewpoint of each of the deceased that Cora resurrects, giving an insight into their life and their death, which I think was a clever idea by the author. This story offers a twist reveal that is delicious and blindsiding. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ from me. I was provided an ARC of this book by Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    "A heart doesn't have to stop beating to be dead." (Unknown) Lydia Kang invites us into a small, ramshackled house on Long Island. It's January of 1830 and the frigid winter winds almost forecast the future existence of the tiny child born this day. Her mother is of the high societal name of Cutter.....cast out by her own family in shame. Her father is unknown. But rumors avail themselves to perhaps an Asian man working on the docks. The time period's ill-fated child will present herself with dua "A heart doesn't have to stop beating to be dead." (Unknown) Lydia Kang invites us into a small, ramshackled house on Long Island. It's January of 1830 and the frigid winter winds almost forecast the future existence of the tiny child born this day. Her mother is of the high societal name of Cutter.....cast out by her own family in shame. Her father is unknown. But rumors avail themselves to perhaps an Asian man working on the docks. The time period's ill-fated child will present herself with dual cultures and something that will transcend all cultures......born with dual hearts. September of 1850 finds this strange child grown into a young woman living in New York City. The unsuspecting brownstone in which she resides provides a refuge for Cora and her maid, Leah, who keeps a watchful eye on her. 1850 is a time of a wide-spreading cholera epidemic in the city in which anatomy professors and anatomical museums will pay a mighty price for specimens. Prevention of these diseases is at the core of dead body procurement. However, what brings in a higher bounty are those bodies that bear anatomical abnormalities. Those bodies usually are earmarked for the Grand Anatomical Museum and are in high demand. Time, place, and circumstance present themselves ideally for a new line of work for Cora as a resurrectionist. Since it is highly unusual for a woman to be successful in that most dastardly of professions, Cora dresses in the costume of a male at night....her "twin brother" now known as Jacob. Once again, duality is front row and center in this novel. But Cora becomes suspicious when these newly procured bodies seem to have been victims of murder instead. Will the highly guarded secret of her unusual internal organs place her in dire straights as well? Lydia Kang is known for her creative and high interest storylines. I would suggest that you check out Beautiful Poison by this author as well. Her Author's Notes at the end of the novel are filled with curious tidbits of actual historical situations dealing with resurrectionists of the time period. As always, Kang has done her homework and its apparent in the presentation of The Impossible Girl. She even includes Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman physician, in a particularly interesting thread. The Impossible Girl may just open the door on a future story involving the most unusual Cora Cutter. Hope you're hearing that loud and clear, Lydia Kang. I received a copy of The Impossible Girl through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Lake Union Publishing and to the talented Lydia Kang for the opportunity.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Iryna (Book and Sword)

    4/5 stars First of all - look at the cover! Look at it! It's so beautiful. Was the cover the reason this book caught my eye? Absolutely, I am a cover whore after all. And then I read the description and I was completely sold! When I was reading this book a thought sprang to mind "this is what "Stalking Jack the Ripper" should have been". Minus Jack the Ripper of course . There are a lot of similarities between the books, but they are also very different from each other. We have the strong feminis 4/5 stars First of all - look at the cover! Look at it! It's so beautiful. Was the cover the reason this book caught my eye? Absolutely, I am a cover whore after all. And then I read the description and I was completely sold! When I was reading this book a thought sprang to mind "this is what "Stalking Jack the Ripper" should have been". Minus Jack the Ripper of course . There are a lot of similarities between the books, but they are also very different from each other. We have the strong feminist character, who is actually a strong feminist character - not just pretending to be one, the macabre world of the dead bodies and dissections, and a mystery. The Impossible Girl was impossible to put down for the first 50 percent of the book. The plot was moving beautifully, the main heroine, Cora was a delight to read about and the topic was fascinating. I loved, loved Cora's secret identity! It was just such a cool perspective to read from. The other 50 percent of the book dipped pretty low on the fascination scale - it was a bit too repetitive for my liking and few things happened that left a bad taste in my mouth. But it did pick up later on with a roller coaster speed and I was back engrossed into the world of living and the dead. The plot twist, while I myself figured out early on (I just read A LOT of mysteries when I was a teenager so honestly not many things can surprise me) was still pleasant from the writing point of view. It was definitely done the correct way. And the madness that was uncovered with that twist? Disgusting, but oh so brilliant! Things were pretty bad for a while for poor Cora, and when you think they couldn't have gotten worse, they of course did. I'd say that the last 20 percent of the book were pretty stressful to read through. Which is how it should be in a mystery book! ​I can tell that this book was brilliantly researched and I genuinely enjoyed all of the medical things portrayed in it - and I am the world's biggest hypochondriac! For the side characters I enjoyed Suzette a lot, which I didn't expect myself to do and I liked Dr. Blackwell, but I wish she got more page time to be honest - there was so much more potential to her. ​Some parts were laced with pretty great humor which made me laugh out loud. There was a part which made me feel very unconformable and I was flabbergasted at how Cora had no proper reaction to it whatsoever. If I saw what she saw I'd be scarred for life, but I guess she was a very tough girl after all. This will be published in the late September - perfect in time for Halloween, when all of us crave macabre books! I definitely recommend! Big thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a digital advanced copy for a review. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart. My WEBSITE My INSTAGRAM My WORDPRESS BLOG

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Wow! Finally, an original idea for a story that is executed perfectly. Lydia Kang is a helluva writer! Her prose is beautiful but it also flows well from page-to-page, making it an absolute pleasure to read. I would describe this as an historical medical mystery in terms of genre, it sort of defies categorisation, mainly because it is such a unique book. I thought the medical elements of the plot were authentic, detailed and realistic, and after discovering Kang is actually a doctor, I realised Wow! Finally, an original idea for a story that is executed perfectly. Lydia Kang is a helluva writer! Her prose is beautiful but it also flows well from page-to-page, making it an absolute pleasure to read. I would describe this as an historical medical mystery in terms of genre, it sort of defies categorisation, mainly because it is such a unique book. I thought the medical elements of the plot were authentic, detailed and realistic, and after discovering Kang is actually a doctor, I realised she has used her deep knowledge of the sciences to create an accurate and intriguing narrative. There was plenty of action thoughout, and the twists in the tale were not predictable, even for a seasoned crime reader like myself. As soon as I opened the book to start reading I was completely riveted and found it impossible to put down. It didn't take long for me to be totally invested in the story and I was appreciating every single word. I read quite a lot from the historical fiction genre and strongly felt like this was a believable and realistic portrayal of what went on in the mid nineteenth century. It felt very much as though this was written by a nerd for other nerds to enjoy - this pleases me a lot being the geek that I am! Ultimately, the story is based around a secret underground society who dig up bodies but also actively search for people with deformities in order to either study them or put them on display to the public. In relation to the characters, each was likeable, affable and completely believable. Cora is a strong female lead who was born with two hearts. This leaves her susceptible to the aforementioned society. Each character was developed well and I found myself feeling like i'd lost a friend when I reached the end of the novel - definitely a sign of a great story! I also appreciated that the characters were diverse with Cora being half-Chinese and there was a fabulous African-American character. This is a fascinating, impactful and thrilling read that is unmissable to those who love historical fiction and a wholly original premise. Many thanks to Lake Union Publishing for an ARC. I was not required to post a review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ante The Zmaj

    First and foremost, I would like to thank NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for my first ever ARC. ''Many things are possible. The human body's mysteries are finite but not yet solved.'' I can wait the day Goodreads will change it's rating system, because it's so hard to put a rating, especially when a book leaves you with your feelings split. This one is actually 3.5. I always found 1800s an the first half of 1900s pretty interesting, because there is always something new to discover, somethin First and foremost, I would like to thank NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for my first ever ARC. ''Many things are possible. The human body's mysteries are finite but not yet solved.'' I can wait the day Goodreads will change it's rating system, because it's so hard to put a rating, especially when a book leaves you with your feelings split. This one is actually 3.5. I always found 1800s an the first half of 1900s pretty interesting, because there is always something new to discover, something that was left out of history books. With this book in my hands I discovered some gross details about ressurectionists, or body snatchers. They were usually operating in small groups, digging out bodies of freshly buried people and selling them to medical schools for medical research or museums, all for a fair price. They also had a woman in the crew, and her role was to infiltrate the mourning family on funerals, during which they could confirm the exact burial site and make an assessment about potential risks. Ressurectionism was Cora Lee's specialty. She was the ''weeping one'' on the funerals and the first to start digging under the night cover. But she was not doing this for the sake of money. This job was Cora's cover so she can sense the pulse of other body snatchers and the market requirements. Because her life depended on it. Because she was the girl with two hearts, the legend among resurrectionists. I can hardly remember the last time a book left me with my feelings split. There are really so many things I liked in this book, but also a couple of things I didn't like. The setting was really impressive. I haven't encountered New York in 1850's so many times. In The Impossible Girl you can almost feel the way life was flowing in the 19th century New York. Social picture and it's division, when it comes to question of female doctors, the manners, the life of the city. Everything was put masterfully. Next to that we have a really mysterious environment, especially when the night falls and our body snatchers begin with their activities. And Cora Lee, who needs to be careful on every step she makes, because she can't never be sure enough someone hasn't connected her with the legend. Also, medical precision. Lydia Kang is a physician herself, so it doesn't surprise me she did her research well when it comes to all the anomalies mentioned in the book, although I believe she did know a bunch of thing before. The thing that bothered me the most is the romantic part. In my opinion, it watered down really interesting idea and the book that was promising to be a very good mystery. In those parts I could hardly recognize the main character, Cora. I know love can make people do some silly stuff, but this was beyond imaginable . Not only did it water the plot, it watered Cora. It's such a shame this romantic part took a large portion of the book, it really is. Don't get me wrong, although I'm not so much into romance novels, I like when romance entwines into something bigger. But romance in this book, to be honest, made some of the characters look like a silly teenagers in love. I wouldn't like to end this review with negativism, so I must say, although some parts are slightly predictable, the final twist and the ending was really spectacular, the way a mystery should end. After everything I've said, I think a decent rating for this book is 3,5 (just a small nudge to Goodreads to change their rating settings ;) )

  9. 4 out of 5

    mo

    "I’m not ashamed of who I am, Leah. It’s everyone else that has trouble with it." Review also on my blog. The Impossible Girl takes an interesting, almost fantastical premise – does Cora Lee, the protagonist, really have two hearts? – and then firmly grounds it in rich historical detail. Especially vivid are the depictions of resurrectionists (people who obtained corpses to serve as public medical dissection cadavers or even as freakshow museum anomalies) and their work in mid-nineteenth-centu "I’m not ashamed of who I am, Leah. It’s everyone else that has trouble with it." Review also on my blog. The Impossible Girl takes an interesting, almost fantastical premise – does Cora Lee, the protagonist, really have two hearts? – and then firmly grounds it in rich historical detail. Especially vivid are the depictions of resurrectionists (people who obtained corpses to serve as public medical dissection cadavers or even as freakshow museum anomalies) and their work in mid-nineteenth-century Manhattan. It’s a novel that asks a lot of questions about medical research, respect for the dead, “race science,” past and present misogyny, and being biracial in an America that thinks of nonwhite people as inferior. “Some good can come of an unwanted, bastard child. When the child dies, give the body to me, as it will be no use to you. It might fetch as high as fifty dollars.” Cora is a resurrectionist. Possibly one of the best. Born with what feels and sounds like two hearts, Cora is raised in isolation and disguised as a boy (I’ll get into that in a bit) to protect her from anatomists, or doctors that would love to dissect her. She’s given an education throughout her childhood and harbors a deep-seated dream of becoming a doctor. Several things work against this dream – her gender, her race (her father is an unknown Chinese man), and her lack of money. Disguised as Jacob Lee, she works as the leader of a grave-robbing crew to earn much-needed cash. It’s through Cora’s work that she meets Flint, who she views as potential competition. Their meeting, and the strange murders of people with medical anomalies like her own, set off a rivalry between them and a tense investigation into what’s going wrong among Manhattan’s resurrectionists. As Cora races against money problems, physical danger, and the inquiring attention of Flint, she must decide who she can trust and what path to take. ➽ Setting The 1850s Manhattan setting is meticulously realized. I could tell the author went to great lengths to research this book’s subject and location. (That said, I’ve never even been to New York City, let alone to Manhattan, and I’m not a time-traveler or historian.) The gritty alleys and gaudy parlors were vividly described but not overdone. Even though I had some issues with the novel (which I’ll get into a bit later), I applaud the author’s work on The Impossible Girl’s setting. ➽ Characters Cora “Twenty cents only?” Cora wondered fleetingly, Would I be worth so much? But she forced the idea away. As usual, she blurred her thoughts over words like monstrosity and malformation, as if they had nothing to do with her. Cora made for an engaging protagonist. Practical, a little proud, and endlessly inquisitive, she is diverted from her childhood interest in becoming a doctor by her protective guardians and the societal view that women were not fit to work in medicine. To readers who would rather their historical fiction protagonists never express viewpoints that would have been progressive in their time, I imagine she will seem like an anachronistic heroine. The novel counters that view a bit by including a fictional version of an actual female doctor who lived and worked at the time, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. I’m not usually a fan of characters disguising themselves in the clothes of other genders in novels, at least when it’s done poorly. As a nonbinary person, I often wish that characters used the opportunity of attire to explore how they feel about their identity or gender. In this novel, it was…okay. Not bad. I kind of didn’t love how, when her “true” self is revealed to people who formerly only knew her as Jacob Lee, they just say that they knew based on her size and appearance. Still, it didn’t rankle me too much, and I suppose this story’s main focus was more on the mystery/whodunnit aspects rather than an introspective exploration of gender. Flint (Theo) Flint was an entertaining character, though I never got a strong feel for him. He felt almost like a rough sketch to me, rather than a fully-finished drawing. That might be due to the strength and presence of Cora’s character in comparison to his, however. Other Characters I gotta say, I was actually pretty surprised at one of the late-stage plot twists with a particular character. It was just how I like my twists: with enough hinting to get a strange feeling about things, but not enough hinting to equate to a neon sign over someone’s head shouting LOOK AT ME, I’M BAD NEWS. Then, there are several other twists I won’t name, but that were almost depressing to read. Just…wow. Cora faced a lot of shit in this novel. One of my favorite relationships in this novel – and one that I liked far more than the romance – was Cora’s developing relationship with her cousin, Suzette. It was so sweet and good to see Cora develop a relationship with another woman, with them supporting each others’ aspirations and having each others’ backs, despite their very different backgrounds. ➽ The plot If you’re going to cry, go to church and pray for the living. The dead don’t need your tears. As I mentioned in the section about characters, this novel’s plot was definitely twisty. (Admittedly, I don’t read a ton of novels in the mystery genre so your mileage may vary with my assessment.) It was definitely dark, though – dark in the sense that Cora really did face some terrible betrayals and intense feelings of emotional isolation. Near the end, there’s also some threats of mortal physical danger, but none of it reached a level I would describe as gratuitous or voyeuristic. I felt that Kang used dramatic tension and danger to good effect in this novel, even if some sections of the novel felt terribly grim to me. Be warned, though: this novel does feature a great deal of death and corpses. Cora works as a resurrectionist, after all. If you don’t enjoy reading descriptions of dead bodies, murder, or general violence, you might want to steer clear of this. ➽ Things I didn’t enjoy as much I actually really liked this novel, despite what I see as its flaws, so this section is going to be fairly small. ➽➽ The latter half of the novel felt a bit disjointed, and certain sections of the plot did feel a slow-moving. It didn’t prevent me from reading it, but I did take longer to read this book than I usually would for one of its length. ➽➽ I didn’t love a certain element in the romance. Major spoiler: (view spoiler)[basically, I didn't totally feel comfortable with Cora becoming pregnant and how that point of tension was resolved. (hide spoiler)] ➽➽ The ghost chapters. I think the novel would have been stronger without them, and I didn’t really like them. And that’s it! Like I said, this novel ultimately won me over and made for a good mystery read on the whole. ➽ Recommended or not? Yeah, I rec it! I would say to take note of the fact that this is not a young adult novel, but it looks like it isn’t being mistakenly marketed as one. But ultimately: give this one a shot if you enjoy period mysteries, medical drama, spooky and moody settings, or a strong heroine. All of those elements plus more are present in this novel, and I think it will make a nice, atmospheric fall mystery for many readers. Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof and may be subject to change in the final published copy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    I have always had a fascination with the macabre, the "freaks", the strange and different. Probably why Freak Show is still my favorite season of American Horror Story, partly why I loved The Greatest Showman and why I absolutely adore this book. Cora is the girl with two hearts - having to grow up as a boy and then take on dual roles as herself and her twin brother, taking on a job as a resurrectionist so she could always be privy to any talk of anyone coming after her, to show her, or rather h I have always had a fascination with the macabre, the "freaks", the strange and different. Probably why Freak Show is still my favorite season of American Horror Story, partly why I loved The Greatest Showman and why I absolutely adore this book. Cora is the girl with two hearts - having to grow up as a boy and then take on dual roles as herself and her twin brother, taking on a job as a resurrectionist so she could always be privy to any talk of anyone coming after her, to show her, or rather her two hearts, off to the world. In the time of Barnum and Bailey and the freak shows of the world, grave robbing as a norm and where the thought of a woman doctor was still astonishing and unheard of - Kang takes us into this world with flourish and entertainment. While I did enjoy the story thoroughly, I especially loved reading the Author's Note at the end where it's explained what was taken from actual truth from those days, including the amazing language that the resurrectionists used - how fun is that?! And the explanations of the various things that happened throughout the book made it even more interesting for me. This is the perfect kind of historical fiction that I enjoy. Cora is a character I thoroughly enjoyed. I also loved the uniqueness in the interspersed chapters of the last minutes of the characters who died from their point of view. If you like the world of grave robbing with a strong female protagonist who fights for her life on the daily, this is a great read for you. While historical fiction isn't typically my cup of tea, this one became my shot of whiskey. Thanks to Lake Union Authors, Amazon Publishing and TLC Book Tours for this copy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Arybo ✨

    4.5 “Anatomy is the equalizer, isn’t it? Shows we’re all just clay and water, in the end, no matter if you’re highborn or not.” New York. About 1850. A peculiar girl. A peculiar work. A peculiar world. As the darkness descended, Broadway became a bright, jeweled marvel, form the colored lanterns hanging on the edge of the carries, to the gaslights flickering to life. Let's start with the setting. I've never read a book set in New York in the 1800s. It was a breath of fresh air. No more Victorian Engl 4.5 “Anatomy is the equalizer, isn’t it? Shows we’re all just clay and water, in the end, no matter if you’re highborn or not.” New York. About 1850. A peculiar girl. A peculiar work. A peculiar world. As the darkness descended, Broadway became a bright, jeweled marvel, form the colored lanterns hanging on the edge of the carries, to the gaslights flickering to life. Let's start with the setting. I've never read a book set in New York in the 1800s. It was a breath of fresh air. No more Victorian England, but America and the city of New York in particular. Women with long dresses full of veils and fabrics, men in tailcoats and tall hat, ragged boys who work for little money. On one hand the high society that meets in the gardens and walks, without having to work hard. On the other, a submerged world of poor people who have to live the fight against hunger every day. On one side theater full of perfumes and flowers, on the other brothels and tavern fights. In this society women of good family do not work, they are watched badly even if they want to teach. For a middle-class girl like Cora it is hard to find a way of sustenance, because she has been turned away from her family of origin because of her origins. The nineteenth century world is full of contrasts. Cora herself lives at the limit of the two systems. Not being able to work as a woman, he disguises herself as a man to keep bringing money home. With the name of Cora it is usually associated that of Jacob. Jacob and Cora. Jacob. Cora. The same person. This method of survival allows her to carry on a very extravagant and macabre profession. The two "siblings" exhume the bodies of those who, in life, had a particular malformation or an anatomical rarity, like a tail or a great malformation on the face. Cora has entered this world knowing that, with a rare body, it is possible to make a lot of money. Another reason why she chose this work is her second heart. Exactly. Cora has two hearts, and to hide from those who seek her as a natural strangeness, she infiltrates this world, so that she always knows what happens. Another peculiarity of Cora is that she is half Chinese. It would not be a problem in today's society, but in the nineteenth century people look bad at children with different ethnic parents. Even the particular beauty of Cora can not do anything against people's prejudices. “Curiosity is not a moral failing.” Cora is interested in the world of Medicine and anatomy. Not only because she must be careful, but also because her buyers are doctors or directors of museums of natural curiosities. During one of the many funeral Cora attends to find a corpse to sell, she meets a man, Theodore Flint, who decides to enter the business of corpses because he is a doctor and because he is interested in human anatomy. During the same night Cora / Jacob finds the cadaver of a man, but the man has a green tongue. After a few days, Cora discovers that the people she knew, who had physical particularities, are disappearing in strange situations. They should be healthy, but they die. Cora understands that there is something underneath. If she does not find out what's happening, she could soon become a victim. The character of Cora is particular, not for her physical qualities, but for her strong soul above all. Cora is a girl fascinated by chemistry and biology, with an uncle working wax for the museum of anatomical oddities. The girl, although she does a rewarding job, can not leave it, because her livelihoods depend on it. The more the story goes on, the more the girl realizes that her work is not positive. She thought of helping people to discover the human body, but maybe it's only about having the doctors entertained. The girl grows during the novel, she creates a better conscience. “Your parentage has nothing to do with the fact that you are a superior creature to me in every way, Cora Lee.” “It’s a shame your anatomic skills aren’t helping the living. “ Full of references to facts and historical informations, this book is a real dive into the American nineteenth century. It talks about morality, the condition of women, the work of doctors, anatomical discoveries and race problems. The author has done a great job in making atmospheres and situations. She certainly did a great job of historical research. The story has taken me from the beginning. The protagonist is my favorite character figure, with a hidden side that nobody should know, with her brain in continuous work. A girl to cheer for. The historical period fascinates me too much. I have never read about nineteenth-century America, with its museums of natural attractions and circuses, its gardens and its theaters, where you can breathe a different air from the European one. Surely I'll read more from the author, because she did a magnificent job. This book kept me attached to the pages, reading it did not weigh at all, I loved everything I read. A bit mystery, a bit scientific, an excellent historical fiction. Highly recommended. *I received a free digital copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review *

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    The wealthy Cutter family of Manhattan will not stand for the shame and embarrassment of heirs born out of wedlock.   When Elizabeth Cutter finds herself unmarried and pregnant, she's sent away to live with her cousin Charlotte who had also found herself in the same predicament but lost her baby during childbirth. Elizabeth dies in childbirth but her daughter survives.  When a doctor arrives, he is astonished to find two heartbeats and tells Charlotte and her maid Leah that the girl will not live. The wealthy Cutter family of Manhattan will not stand for the shame and embarrassment of heirs born out of wedlock.   When Elizabeth Cutter finds herself unmarried and pregnant, she's sent away to live with her cousin Charlotte who had also found herself in the same predicament but lost her baby during childbirth. Elizabeth dies in childbirth but her daughter survives.  When a doctor arrives, he is astonished to find two heartbeats and tells Charlotte and her maid Leah that the girl will not live. The baby girl named Cora not only survives but thrives under the care of Charlotte, her former partner Alexander, and Leah and becomes the only female resurrectionist in New York.  She scouts fresh burials by day as a lady and then returns at night disguised as a man named Jacob with a small crew of 3-4 men to dig up the body and deliver them to anatomists for payment.   Cora's specialty is anomalies like vestigal tails or tumors that grow hair/teeth.  She keeps an eye out for patients with obscure or peculiar conditions because these will garner her the highest price if she can deliver them to the medical college for study. Her job not only pays the bills but also allows her to listen for rumors about the girl born with two hearts that has become legendary in her profession. When several people with physical anomalies die in a short time span, Cora suspects they're being murdered for profit.  The legend of the girl with two hearts has raised the stakes and now she cannot trust anyone, including her family (those who raised her and those who covered up her existence) or the man she's fallen in love with. Cora must risk her own life to discover who is behind the murders and prevent them from finding out she is the ultimate prize, the girl with two hearts. This was an exciting historical fiction novel centered around the true story of grave robbery as a profession.  Medical colleges did indeed secretly pay for bodies so that they could learn more about human anatomy/disease and help future patients. Cora's story was fast paced and entertaining as everyone became potential suspects with a motive to want her dead.  There was scandal, mystery, suspense, and even a romance (which thankfully didn't overtake the story!) Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.  The Impossible Girl is scheduled for release on September 18, 2018. For more full reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate Olson

    (free review copy) HOLY MOTHER OF MACABRE. You guys know I’m obsessed with medical history AND that I love New York City history, so this book was on my TBR when I first heard about it. @tlcbooktours was gracious enough to send me a free review copy, and oh my goodness am I glad they did. Or maybe I’m not, given how absolutely delightfully disgusting this book was - HA! . Kang holds absolutely nothing back in her descriptions of medical deformities and atrocities and of the corpses……so, so, so, so (free review copy) HOLY MOTHER OF MACABRE. You guys know I’m obsessed with medical history AND that I love New York City history, so this book was on my TBR when I first heard about it. @tlcbooktours was gracious enough to send me a free review copy, and oh my goodness am I glad they did. Or maybe I’m not, given how absolutely delightfully disgusting this book was - HA! . Kang holds absolutely nothing back in her descriptions of medical deformities and atrocities and of the corpses……so, so, so, so many corpses. The Impossible Girl is one of those ones best not read over a meal…..or before bed if you are at all the nightmare type. AND, this story takes some dark, dark turns that I had absolutely no idea were coming. I’m actually still a little upset about some of them and want to scream, “WHY??? Why did you make THAT happen?”. Whew, the sign of a gripping book I guess - one that makes me sort of want to puke AND want to scream. I adore that Kang is a physician, because it brings so much authenticity to the story. . If you’re looking for a fantastically gross book with excellent historical detail, definitely add this one to your list!

  14. 4 out of 5

    ☕ Kimberly

    I absolutely loved Cora, who lives both as a young man named Jacob and as his sister Cora. She is a shrewd businesswoman with an extensive knowledge of medicine, anatomy and apporapthy. Kang gave us a delightful glimpse of New York, its immigrants, and the seedy side of medical advancements.  The rich locked their loved one's caskets and set guards but doctors treating patients kept folks like Cora informed as they all padded their pockets. Cora herself watches locals with strange afflictions and I absolutely loved Cora, who lives both as a young man named Jacob and as his sister Cora. She is a shrewd businesswoman with an extensive knowledge of medicine, anatomy and apporapthy. Kang gave us a delightful glimpse of New York, its immigrants, and the seedy side of medical advancements.  The rich locked their loved one's caskets and set guards but doctors treating patients kept folks like Cora informed as they all padded their pockets. Cora herself watches locals with strange afflictions and waits their passing...but someone is killing off these people and their bodies are turning up at the university and museums. Between the mystery of the killings and the rumours circulating about a girl with two-hearts the storyline was intense with dark and sometimes gritty turns. What made this a five cups of coffee for me were the characters from those on Cora's gravedigger team too a young medical student named Flinn. I adored Flinn as able to see the real Cora.  This story had it all, twists, double twists, swoons and character growth.  All of which transported me as I dashed around the city with Cora. As an added twist we are given the perspective of each of the victims around the time of their death. It was chilling and brilliant. Saskia Maarleveld is a fantastic narrator, and in fact she is the reason I listened to The Impossible Girl. She did a splendid job capturing Cora, Jacob, the Uncle, and Finn. I loved that she gave unique voices to all the secondary characters capturing their mannerisms and accents. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hristina

    I was surprised by this book. I tend to stay away from historical fiction as it's not my cup of tea, but this book has a premise that after reading the synopsis I couldn't resist. It's very easy to read and it offers a captivating story. I enjoyed how well the characters were written, and I especially enjoyed the story. The book gave me the impression that it was well-researched and planned to the smallest of details, as everything was coming together plot-wise. I do have a bit of an issue with t I was surprised by this book. I tend to stay away from historical fiction as it's not my cup of tea, but this book has a premise that after reading the synopsis I couldn't resist. It's very easy to read and it offers a captivating story. I enjoyed how well the characters were written, and I especially enjoyed the story. The book gave me the impression that it was well-researched and planned to the smallest of details, as everything was coming together plot-wise. I do have a bit of an issue with the writing: the pacing made a huge turn mid book, and I feel like there were some paragraphs that weren't crucial to the story, and they took away from my overall impression of it. But I do believe that fans of historical fiction will enjoy this book. *Rating: 4/5 stars *Copy received through NetGalley

  16. 4 out of 5

    ABCme

    Thank you Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC. I'm always on the lookout for some macabre historical fiction and when offered the chance to review this book, my expectations reached the gothic spires. I wasn't disappointed. Come, let's enter the morbid world of graverobbers. It's 1850 and the New York resurrectionists are digging up freshly buried bodies to sell to the medical schools. The ones with the most fascinating anomalies fetch the best price, so there's quite an industry in fol Thank you Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC. I'm always on the lookout for some macabre historical fiction and when offered the chance to review this book, my expectations reached the gothic spires. I wasn't disappointed. Come, let's enter the morbid world of graverobbers. It's 1850 and the New York resurrectionists are digging up freshly buried bodies to sell to the medical schools. The ones with the most fascinating anomalies fetch the best price, so there's quite an industry in following the sick and departed. Doctors are lending a helping hand. There is also a list with parts most wanted by the anatomical museum. The robbers have their work cut out for them. Our main character, Cora, carries a secret that might destroy her. In order to survive she leads a double life as Jacob, resurrectionist. She's a fierce lady by day and a tough guy on the nightly digs. That is, until rumors start spreading about a girl with two hearts, with a bounty of $500 quickly becoming the most sought after person in town. Cora has to get hold of her childhood doctor's diaries, to stop the rumors and prevent her life from being ripped apart. The race is on. The story continues at great pace with quite a few surprises keeping the excitement going. Eventually there's a well crafted twist leading up to a wonderful finale. The book is filled with indepth characters, the good, the bad and the ugly. Vivid writing of lush mansions, dirty alleyways and earthy graveyards throughout. I thorougly enjoyed the chapters where the dead have their say. The anomalies are just too delicious and, despite their sad tidings, had me laugh out loud. The Impossible Girl is an amazing read, fast paced and entertaining from the start. Highly recommended.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com 'So, thirteen-year old Cora had shivered and cried, wondering if her numbed left arm and leg would work again, or her garbled speech would right itself. And they did- only a few hours later. It never happened again, but the incident reminded Cora that her body held dark sway over her existence.' Cora, birthed three weeks too early in shame to Elizabeth, an unmarried socialite is born with an anomaly, two hearts. When her mother dies giving birth t via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com 'So, thirteen-year old Cora had shivered and cried, wondering if her numbed left arm and leg would work again, or her garbled speech would right itself. And they did- only a few hours later. It never happened again, but the incident reminded Cora that her body held dark sway over her existence.' Cora, birthed three weeks too early in shame to Elizabeth, an unmarried socialite is born with an anomaly, two hearts. When her mother dies giving birth to her, a doctor discovers her extra heartbeat, assured having a chinese father follows all the other pecularities brought to the docks by those ‘foreigners’. Being of mixed blood certainly causes these oddities! Immediately the doctor is hungry to have her for dissection, when she dies of course, because he has no doubt her death will come soon. With the baby, this anatomic jewel, she would be a great gift to medicine, something to dissect and study! He will pay them, it’s obvious they live in poverty and sorely need the funds. Charlotte herself knows all too well what life is like as a family outcast, cut out of the family for her own ‘sins’. With her cousin Elizabeth passing and the threat of the doctor looming over their heads, she devises a plan to hide the child. One baby girl takes on two lives, as Jacob and Cora Lee, twins. So begins the adventures of Cora, Queen of Resurrectionists, employed by anatomists! Instead of gowns and all that glitters she chases down the dead from funerals to cemeteries to make a pretty penny. Even the poor that often “died in such dreadfully ordinary ways” can line her pockets, but competition can be fierce! It’s the unique bodies with oddities that are in high demand, people like Cora herself. She watches her marks, waiting until death takes them, keeping always to propriety as a lady should, even when dealing with the stink of death. Before long, such people are dying unnatural causes, disappearing! Cora knows someone is hunting them and the killer may well be on her heels. Worse, she has met a mysterious medical student, Theodore Flint, poaching her business who knows all too well about Cora Lee’s fierce reputation. Disguised as Jacob, Cora and Flint come to an arrangement and everything gets muddled as her feelings for him become more than just business. Running from passion and love is nothing compared to the killer coming to collect a most sought after oddity for his collection, Cora herself. Containing two hearts makes it that much more fitting that Cora has led a life as two people in order to survive but Flint could unravel the only protection she has, if he discovers her brother doesn’t even exist. The timeline beginning in 1850 with Cora’s birth, was ripe with body snatching for medical studies you can research this and find out the shocking reality. Too, this is a feminist story in the split necessary for Cora to take on the role of Jacob to navigate the rougher side of life. Cora is fiercely intelligent, full of medical knowledge and yet Jacob is the one the invite to the Grand Anatomical Museum is extended to by Theo Flint. In a world where women were less, Cora has risen to legendary status. Her own aunt and mother’s removal from the well to do family because of their pregnancies out-of-wedlock was the norm of such times and yet we see amazing strength and courage in Charlotte taking on the care of her niece. These were mean times if you didn’t have money, which is why as vile as body snatching is, it’s a sink or swim existance and people did what they needed to in order to survive! Bigotry against mixed- blood children, xenophobia, the poor versus the rich, sexism, it’s all here and it’s quite an adventure. I was engaged to the very end and genuinely feel Cora makes for a fascinating young woman! This is one to add to your TBR pile, I was still guessing how it would all come together and the ending is just right. Publication Date: September 18, 2018 Lake Union Publishing

  18. 5 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    This was a book that I was excited about when I got the pitch and then I kind of forgot about it until closer to the review date. I wasn’t entirely excited to read it when the time came to start it, but that slight was rectified almost immediately when I started this one. This book had a little bit of everything, romance, mystery, fantasy, and history. I loved this one almost from the first word! It made an excellent early fall/Halloween read. This book touched on some of the most interesting aspe This was a book that I was excited about when I got the pitch and then I kind of forgot about it until closer to the review date. I wasn’t entirely excited to read it when the time came to start it, but that slight was rectified almost immediately when I started this one. This book had a little bit of everything, romance, mystery, fantasy, and history. I loved this one almost from the first word! It made an excellent early fall/Halloween read. This book touched on some of the most interesting aspects of Victorian society. While this book is set in Manhattan, the English influence can still be seen in this book. The controversial busy and selling of dead bodies to science and medical students as well as grave robbing is predominantly featured in this book and I absolutely loved it! So I have a macabre curiosity? Yes, absolutely. But as a social historian I also love how resourceful people and students were. The whole body snatching industry was quite the operation and took quite a bit of ingenuity if you ask me. Not to mention this book explores quite a bit about the medical profession during that time and I absolutely loved that….beyond words! While I found many of the medical anomalies captivating as well as some of the moral ambiguity discussions, I was quickly diverted by all the interesting characters. I loved that there were feminist characters like Dr Blackwell, though I would have liked to have seen a little more of her. I easily loved Cora, as the protagonist she was perfect and interesting. As a resurrectionist, that should make her stand out, but for me it was her ethnicity that stood out. To me being a resurrectionist was just part of her job rather than who she was. I loved that she was a minority in a time when minorities weren’t widely trusted or accepted and that she wanted to be a doctor. She was memorable and I loved her. There are some paranormal elements to the story, but to me it wasn’t the focus. At the heart of this book, it’s a mystery. The mystery outshines the paranormal. It also features a good deal of forensics and I found that it captured my imagination and intrigue. This book took me by surprise and I was hooked from the first chapter. I loved it and read it in one weekend. I would highly recommend this book, especially in time for Halloween! And can I just say how in love with the cover I am? If that doesn’t say Victorian then I don’t know what does. That cover is perfect for this book and made me want to read it not to mention buy a hard copy for my bookshelf to display! See my full review here

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Manhattan, 1850. Born out of wedlock to a wealthy socialite and a nameless immigrant, Cora Lee is born with two hearts. Now, her life is in danger and she must find the person who is killing people with strange anomalies and selling their bodies for a profit. Great gothic story. The writing flowed nicely and the story was interesting to read. Great imagery of 1800's medical practices and the murky city streets of New York. 4☆

  20. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    Enjoyable! Lydia Kang’s story reminded me of favorites I read in high school, like Madeleine Brent’s Moonraker’s Bride. And narrator Saskia Maarleveld brought the characters to life so well. A great find on Kindle Unlimited.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔

    Well, that was interesting... Truly an interesting and rather unexpected read. A tale of a young woman determined to make a life for herself during a time where women are regarded as the inferior gender by society - filled with murder, mystery and twisted family hierocracy. In some ways, it quite reminds me of These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly which I really enjoyed as well. And honestly, I did not guess the killer right at all. Which is pretty rare, so kudos to the author for throwing me Well, that was interesting... Truly an interesting and rather unexpected read. A tale of a young woman determined to make a life for herself during a time where women are regarded as the inferior gender by society - filled with murder, mystery and twisted family hierocracy. In some ways, it quite reminds me of These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly which I really enjoyed as well. And honestly, I did not guess the killer right at all. Which is pretty rare, so kudos to the author for throwing me for a loop. * Detailed review to come?*

  22. 4 out of 5

    OLT

    If you don't try to analyze or make sense of some of the characters' actions, this makes for an entertaining historical mystery-thriller. It takes place in 1850s NYC, during an interesting period in history, when medical schools needed cadavers for their anatomy classes and research, with demand high and voluntary supply (by family members, etc.) almost nonexistent. What to do but steal freshly-dead bodies from graves to sell. Those involved in this grave robbing were known as resurrectionists a If you don't try to analyze or make sense of some of the characters' actions, this makes for an entertaining historical mystery-thriller. It takes place in 1850s NYC, during an interesting period in history, when medical schools needed cadavers for their anatomy classes and research, with demand high and voluntary supply (by family members, etc.) almost nonexistent. What to do but steal freshly-dead bodies from graves to sell. Those involved in this grave robbing were known as resurrectionists and there were even a few extremely unscrupulous ones who stooped to murder to get a good enough supply of bodies. With an oversupply of bodies of the poor, who died mainly of mundane, ordinary causes such as malnutrition or common diseases, the more exotic and anomalous maladies and deformations were in high demand: people with tumors, for example, or vestigial tails, three breasts, six toes, or, let's say, two hearts even. These more exotic corpses were in demand both for scientific research and for prurient interest in museums or public exhibitions. But two hearts? That's impossible, isn't it? Except for the case of our heroine, Cora Lee, illegitimate daughter of a disgraced socialite and a Chinese sailor. Cora never knew her parents and was raised by her Aunt Charlotte, who is recently deceased as this book begins. The doctor who attended Cora's birth was indiscreet about baby Cora's abnormality, so the medical and scientific world has been aware that a half Chinese girl (identity unknown) with two hearts was born in NYC. To keep Cora safe, Aunt Charlotte had raised her as a boy, Jacob, hoping the rumors about the "Impossible Girl" would die out and that no suspicion would fall on "boy" Jacob. After puberty, both Cora/Jacob co-exist, as Cora during the day and Jacob at night, working as resurrectionists supplying cadavers for scientific research. Cora has chosen this profession in the hopes that she can always keep abreast of any rumors about her or requests to find that two-hearted girl. And so it goes. Cora finds competition in this grave robbing business heating up. One competitor is medical student Theo, in need of funds. They feel an attraction to each other but mutual trust is quite another thing. And there are other competitors, many quite unsavory. In addition, we have unscrupulous businessmen looking for "freaks of nature" to make money from by charging admission to their museums or exhibitions. When a list of body requests comes out with the most expensive item being a half Chinese girl with two hearts, things really start to heat up for Cora. It's hard for her to know who to trust, to know who is aware that she is the girl with two hearts. How will she keep herself safe if it becomes known that she is the one everyone is looking for? Well, just stay tuned. There are lots of bad and seemingly bad guys here, lots of good and seemingly good guys, and an unexpected really bad guy. There are a good amount of twists in here and I had not twigged on to who was the most evil of the evils until the reveal at the end. The story and plot are good enough to hold one's interest, the author is a medical doctor and knows her medical information, but the writing style is basic and uninspired. In other words, literature this ain't. And Cora's final solution to her problem, the way she thinks she can save herself, seemed to me to be very ill thought out and impractical, even if interesting from a medical point of view. There's a lot that's improbable and impractical here but I kept on reading it all anyway. Just had to find out how it all was going to end.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    4.5 Stars ARC provided by Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The Impossible Girl caught my eye because the description sounded so unique. I had been scrolling through Netgalley for quite a while, and everything looked so generic. Just as I was about to give up, I stumbled across The Impossible Girl, and it was definitely a lucky find! The story is set in 1850 in New York City. Twenty-year-old Cora Lee has never had an easy life. Her mother was a wealthy socialite 4.5 Stars ARC provided by Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The Impossible Girl caught my eye because the description sounded so unique. I had been scrolling through Netgalley for quite a while, and everything looked so generic. Just as I was about to give up, I stumbled across The Impossible Girl, and it was definitely a lucky find! The story is set in 1850 in New York City. Twenty-year-old Cora Lee has never had an easy life. Her mother was a wealthy socialite who was disowned from her family for getting pregnant out of wedlock then died giving birth to Cora. Cora is then raised by her aunt who was also abandoned by the family for refusing to conform to their expectations. Orphaned, illegitimate, and biracial, Cora’s life was never destined to be comfortable. But there is another darker secret that hangs over Cora: she was born with two hearts. It was a time when anyone with birth anomalies was outcast or worse – hunted both by medical enthusiasts who wanted to study them and by the gawking public who paid to see any “freaks” both dead and alive. When the doctor who delivered Cora begins telling tales about the girl with two hearts, her aunt does everything she can to protect her. They move away and turn Cora into Jacob, raising her as a boy until puberty in an attempt to throw off the people searching for her. Twenty years later, Cora is still caught in-between two lives. By day she is Cora and moves on the fringes of genteel society. By night she is Jacob and works as a resurrectionist (someone who steals bodies since back then it was illegal to use corpses for any medical studies, so they had to be procured through grave robbing). Jacob specializes in unusual bodies – anyone with a physical anomaly. This is precarious given her own highly sought-after anomaly, but it allows her to keep track of who might be after her as well as earning a living. But the stakes get even higher when someone starts murdering people with physical anomalies and a bounty is put out for the legendary girl with two hearts. Cora is left fighting for her life and unsure of whom to trust. The story is fast-paced. I couldn’t put it down and easy read it in a day. I loved the detailed historical setting which was well-researched without being too dry or bogging down the story. Women’s repression is a major theme in the book. There is even a cameo of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first women in America to earn a medical degree. It was also interesting that Cora struggled with her gender identity. After experiencing the freedom and respect offered to her when she is disguised as Jacob, it becomes more and more difficult to behave as Cora. As a woman she has few rights, many restrictions from society, and no way to earn a living. On top of that, she has stigma for being biracial and illegitimate. The Impossible Girl is a story with many layers that I found very engaging although it borders on far-fetched at times. As a side note: there may be some confusion about what genre to classify this book as. Very minor Spoiler: There are some interludes between the chapters that are told from the perspective of the murder victims. These sections provide background information and slowly hint at who the killer is. They may technically be told from the perspective of “ghosts,” but they don’t have any direct bearing on the rest of the story. They provide information for the reader. I might possibly call this magical realism but that’s stretching things a bit. This is absolutely NOT a fantasy story though! I think people could be misled by the description and go into this with very different expectations. I’d hate for someone to dismiss this book just because of differing expectations. But to reiterate, this is not a fantasy story. There is no magic. The “resurrectionists” really were just grave robbers, not necromancers or anything like that. It’s not like any of the characters see the “ghosts” or are affected by them in any way. It’s Historical Fiction all the way. The plot hinges on not knowing who to trust which requires that the other characters’ motivations are kept secret from the reader. While that was fine on a plot level, it also meant that I never got to know the other characters very well. Character development was sacrificed in order to maintain the plot twists. This is my only real critique about the story. While the story was certainly engaging and kept me guessing, I also got a bit fatigued with the “who can I trust” betrayals. You can only play that card so many times before it gets repetitive. I wanted to get to know some of the other characters better but wasn’t able to because being in the dark about their motivations was vital to the plot. Aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed The Impossible Girl. It probably won’t make my top five for 2018, but it is safe to say that it will stand out as one of the most original books I’ve read this year. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who likes Historical Mysteries/Thrillers and/or stories with strong female leads. I look forward to reading more by Lydia Kang. RATING FACTORS: Ease of Reading: 5 Stars Writing Style: 4 Stars Characters and Character Development: 4 Stars Plot Structure and Development: 4 Stars Level of Captivation: 5 Stars Originality: 5 Stars

  24. 4 out of 5

    Taryn Pierson

    After Lydia Kang’s novel A Beautiful Poison changed my mind about historical fiction last year, I couldn’t wait to dig into her latest offering. The scene is New York City, 1850. Cora is a resurrectionist--a polite-sounding word for “grave robber.” She negotiates deals with anatomists, medical schools, and museums, and then her brother Jacob (actually Cora dressed in men’s clothing) digs up the bodies along with his crew and delivers them to their buyers. It’s grisly work, but it’s vital for Cor After Lydia Kang’s novel A Beautiful Poison changed my mind about historical fiction last year, I couldn’t wait to dig into her latest offering. The scene is New York City, 1850. Cora is a resurrectionist--a polite-sounding word for “grave robber.” She negotiates deals with anatomists, medical schools, and museums, and then her brother Jacob (actually Cora dressed in men’s clothing) digs up the bodies along with his crew and delivers them to their buyers. It’s grisly work, but it’s vital for Cora to keep abreast of the specimens being sought, as she has a secret she’s desperate to keep under wraps--she was born with two hearts. If that information falls into the wrong hands, Cora knows she’d be worth much more dead than alive. Things get even more complicated when she realizes the people on her watch list--those with abnormalities that she monitors so that when they die, she and her crew are ready to claim them--start dying before their time. Someone is taking out her targets one by one, and if she’s not careful, Cora could be next. This is the perfect book for your fall reading list--it’s suspenseful, original, a little gruesome, and even a touch romantic, if you can believe that. And after all, if you’re going to read a book about grave robbing, October is the time to do it!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Janelle

    Thank you so much Lake Union Publishing for this gorgeous, free copy of THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL by Lydia Kang - all opinions are my own. This is an intriguing, macabre novel with an original plot, strangeness, intrigue, and yes, grave robbing. Set in the mid-1800s, we follow Cora, the girl with two hearts, who is the only female resurrectionist in New York. She exhumes recently buried bodies to sell to the highest bidder, usually the Grand Anatomical Museum as they seek the most unusual abnormalities Thank you so much Lake Union Publishing for this gorgeous, free copy of THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL by Lydia Kang - all opinions are my own. This is an intriguing, macabre novel with an original plot, strangeness, intrigue, and yes, grave robbing. Set in the mid-1800s, we follow Cora, the girl with two hearts, who is the only female resurrectionist in New York. She exhumes recently buried bodies to sell to the highest bidder, usually the Grand Anatomical Museum as they seek the most unusual abnormalities. Cora works closely with a network of doctors who have patients with anatomical anomalies as the institution will pay the highest possible price. She has quite a system as she keeps a list of patients with these afflictions, attends their funerals when they die, and returns to their gravesites to retrieve their bodies. However, one day Cora receives a mysterious list that contains “desirable” body traits, including a girl with two hearts. Cora is a fierce, multifaceted, strong female protagonist and I loved reading her story. 1850 is the time of the cholera epidemic, anatomy museums, “curiosities” and “freakshows” which are so fascinating to read about. This subject interests me to no end so I was completely captivated by this story. Also, one of my favorite aspects of the book are the chapters interspersed throughout that are written from the perspective of the people who died in their last minutes. I love Kang’s Author’s Note as it contains invaluable information which only enhances a book I already loved. THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL is atmospheric, engaging, and perfect for readers who love historical mysteries set in the Victorian era.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    I received a copy from Lake Union Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Cora Lee is one of the top resurrectionists in New York. Anatomists are desperate for cadavers and are willing to pay a pretty penny for the newly dead. Living a double life, she scouts her latest specimens as Cora by day and digs their bodies up by night as her identical twin brother, Jacob. There’s more to her profitable job than just money. Cora has a secret: she was born with two hearts. She wants I received a copy from Lake Union Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Cora Lee is one of the top resurrectionists in New York. Anatomists are desperate for cadavers and are willing to pay a pretty penny for the newly dead. Living a double life, she scouts her latest specimens as Cora by day and digs their bodies up by night as her identical twin brother, Jacob. There’s more to her profitable job than just money. Cora has a secret: she was born with two hearts. She wants to make sure that her finger is on the latest gossip among the resurrectionists so that she knows when they’re looking for her. Sadly, that time has come. Someone is murdering people with medical anomalies and Cora’s now a wanted woman. This is my second book from Lydia Kang and she is absolutely brilliant. One of the things that I liked about A Beautiful Poison is that it’s well researched, and The Impossible Girl is no different. It’s clear that Kang did a lot of research into the era and the history of resurrectionists, or grave robbers, early on. It really set the tone and helped me feel like I was right beside Cora as the story unfolded. There’s even an extra bit of info about the era and the inspiration behind the story at the end of the book, which I love. The story and its characters are extremely compelling, which left me wishing that I could binge it every time I had to put the book down. Cora is such a complex character who is fun to follow. Born with two hearts, she was raised as Jacob until her caretakers decided it was time for her family to believe he died. Once they made the move, she took on a new life as a resurrectionist until she made enough money to retire, move, and start over. Living a double life, Cora is able to move through society as a man and a woman. I thought it was interesting that Cora preferred to live as Jacob, but I understood her reasons. As a woman, she’s expected to be light of heart, not have complex interests, and eventually settle down. As a man, she can express herself however she wants, is free to have complex interests, and freely move through town until there’s a price on her head. In the mid-1800s, I don’t blame her for preferring to move among society as Jacob. There are many fascinating characters throughout the story. Dr. Blackwell is a character that I wish we saw more of because she’s a doctor in this era, which is frowned upon. I love how her relationship with Cora unfolds and how she eventually became immersed in her predicament. Cora’s cousin, Suzette Cutter, surprised me once we got to know her. Cora’s team of resurrectionists are a fun bunch who truly care for her as much as she cares for them. Then there’s Cora’s self-made family, Charlotte, Leah, and Alexander, who seemingly love her both too much and not enough in their own ways. There isn’t a single character that doesn’t leave an impression. I cannot praise this book enough. It has fascinating characters, a compelling mystery, and an overall wonderful story that has left me a big fan. I’m a mystery buff and I love the way that Kang writes her mysteries. She stunned me with a major reveal yet again! I called some things and figured out some plot elements before they were fully revealed, but I definitely did not see the big twist coming. One of my favorite things to do is reread a story that left me blindsided, so I’m excited to reread this in the future.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mai

    I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley - thank you! All opinions are my own. The Impossible Girl is the story of Cora, who was born with two hearts. As a resurrectionist procuring bodies with strange anomalies to anatomists she takes us on a mysterious and weird journey through 1850s New York, all the while being the one medical sensation who tops all others and is sought after like a legend. I truely enjoyed this, Cora is a fascinating protagonist and the story's theme is equally fas I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley - thank you! All opinions are my own. The Impossible Girl is the story of Cora, who was born with two hearts. As a resurrectionist procuring bodies with strange anomalies to anatomists she takes us on a mysterious and weird journey through 1850s New York, all the while being the one medical sensation who tops all others and is sought after like a legend. I truely enjoyed this, Cora is a fascinating protagonist and the story's theme is equally fascinating (and sometimes sad). Plus: A gripping mystery plot. Great read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This was a super thrilling book that was chock full of suspense, danger and a bit of romance. Cora/Jacob are thrust into so many perilous situations that this is an edge of your seat, can’t stop reading kind of story. I suspected that one of Cora’s friends or family members would betray her but I did not make the correct guess. I truthfully was blindsided by it and feel like a twit for missing any clues. I don’t even recall there being any clues, that’s how surprised I was! Events leading up to This was a super thrilling book that was chock full of suspense, danger and a bit of romance. Cora/Jacob are thrust into so many perilous situations that this is an edge of your seat, can’t stop reading kind of story. I suspected that one of Cora’s friends or family members would betray her but I did not make the correct guess. I truthfully was blindsided by it and feel like a twit for missing any clues. I don’t even recall there being any clues, that’s how surprised I was! Events leading up to the end were so full of tension and I was honestly unsure if it was going to end well or very, very badly. I found I was attached to some of the characters to an unexpected extent and I got a touch teared up over what transpired. This brought up some really interesting issues over the medical use of human bodies and tissue and who owns a body after death. Is it a moral requirement for someone with a physical condition that could be used to teach or even help cure others to do so? Does everyone have an inalienable right to their own body and tissue? I’m an archaeologist and I admit that we find anomalies in human anatomy fascinating. Our physical anthropology lab in university had many human bones that had been marred by disease or injury. (Syphilis is the best, look it up!) Some of these specimens were from people who had donated their bodies to science but most were from India. I questioned why this was the case and was told a story not entirely dissimilar from that of the resurrectionists. So despite all the advances in procurement and regulating laws it appears this practice isn’t as far removed as we might like to think. Looking at the author’s bio I see that she is a physician and this is pretty evident in this book. The medical knowledge is meticulous and accurate. I feel like the historical details were also researched thoroughly, right down to the patois of Five Points at that time called “flash.” All of this was incredibly immersive and I felt like I was there with Cora walking down the street or digging a grave with Jacob. This is historical fiction done exactly right and the added element of forensics just makes it all the more appealing. Thank you to Lake Union Publishing for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Calista Andrechek

    Thank you Netgalley, Lydia Kang and Lake Union Publishing for the free e-book in exchange for an honest review. Born out of wedlock in 1850, Cora Lee can mingle with the rich socialites just as a well as she can sneak into the graveyards of the city. She’s the only female resurrectionist in New York and she’s made her money by finding bodies with strange conditions that anatomists will pay big money for. Cora’s specialty is not just for the money, but to keep up with what anatomists are looking f Thank you Netgalley, Lydia Kang and Lake Union Publishing for the free e-book in exchange for an honest review. Born out of wedlock in 1850, Cora Lee can mingle with the rich socialites just as a well as she can sneak into the graveyards of the city. She’s the only female resurrectionist in New York and she’s made her money by finding bodies with strange conditions that anatomists will pay big money for. Cora’s specialty is not just for the money, but to keep up with what anatomists are looking for, because someday it might be her; the girl with two hearts. As murders begin to happen all around her to people with strange conditions, she begins to wonder if she’s next. This book had me hooked right from the very first page with Cora’s mom giving birth to her! I loved the atmosphere of the 1850’s New York and I could just picture a lot of the locations from the description in the novel. I loved Cora’s character and how she had to grow up acting like a boy for the first bit of her life to be able to live safely. Jacob and Cora were seamless in their act and I enjoyed how each character had their own set of personality and their own strengths and weaknesses. I really enjoyed reading this novel from Cora’s point of view and how she viewed her life thus far. I was shocked by some of the twists in this novel and how different the medical field was in the 1850’s and what was allowed. This book really showed how under appreciated women were in this time, but I loved how the author gave us a female doctor anyway! I just really enjoyed this novel, even though I don’t usually read any historical! I learned a lot from this novel and I never realized that certain grave robbers were doing it mostly for good, to help those training in the medical field learn from experience. I really do recommend this novel and I can’t wait to read more from Lydia Kang.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I usually go into books with a fairly good idea of whether or not I’m going to like them. Sometimes I’m proven wrong, but generally I’m in the ballpark. With The Impossible Girl, I had no idea what to expect. I had not read anything by Lydia Kang, and I wasn’t quite sure if this book was adult or young adult or had supernatural elements or was just straight historical fiction. But I knew I needed to read a book about a half-Chinese female ressurrectionist. And I’m so glad I did! I was blown away I usually go into books with a fairly good idea of whether or not I’m going to like them. Sometimes I’m proven wrong, but generally I’m in the ballpark. With The Impossible Girl, I had no idea what to expect. I had not read anything by Lydia Kang, and I wasn’t quite sure if this book was adult or young adult or had supernatural elements or was just straight historical fiction. But I knew I needed to read a book about a half-Chinese female ressurrectionist. And I’m so glad I did! I was blown away immediately. Lydia Kang’s writing style is my favorite kind: beautiful, but not at all distracting or pretentious. It fit well with the story, and was a pleasure to read. Just really good writing. I also loved that Kang is a doctor; her medical knowledge was evident, and I think it added a lot to the story. She also did a great job with the twists. I am pretty good at predicting twists, but I don’t think I saw any of these coming. There were a few I had a bad feeling about, but I didn’t quite know what was going to happen. That is a huge feat in my book, and it made me so happy. The story itself was completely engrossing. I was invested very early on, and it just got better from there. I thought Cora’s story was really creative, but fairly realistic for the time period. It feels like something completely outrageous, but when you take a step back you see that it’s not. The mid-nineteenth century was a weird time, when P. T. Barnum was making mermaids out of monkeys and everyone was running over to California in search of gold. So it’s not completely unfathomable to have an underground society not only digging up bodies (a widespread common for decades – just ask Leonardo da Vinci), but actively searching for bodies of those with deformities to study or display. As for the characters, I think it’s safe to say I loved them. I enjoyed the fact that the main character is half-Chinese, and there is a really great African-American character as well. Not an incredible amount of diversity, but I think it’s pretty good for a historical fiction novel. All of the characters have a lot of depth and each added to the mystery, which was so fun. I’m not going to spoil you and say who, but there were a few characters who started off good and turned out to be completely awful, and I did really like that sort of reverse character growth. It was so interesting and exciting. And (again, not saying who is involved) I loved the love story so much. It’s definitely not the main plot of this book, which is perfect, but it’s one of the things that stuck in my head the most. Overall, this was just a great book. Fun to read, impactful, and interesting.

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