The Impossible Girl

The Impossible Girl

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...

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Title:The Impossible Girl
Author:Lydia Kang
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Edition Language:English

The Impossible Girl Reviews

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Iryna semi-hiatus (Book and Sword)

    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

    . 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

    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

    . 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.

    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

    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

    for providing me with a digital advanced copy for a review. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.

    My

    My

    My

  • 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.

  • Amalia Gavea

    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

    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....

    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.

    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.

    Many thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    My reviews can also be found on

  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

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    Hello friends, I'd like to introduce you to the book that I've been secretly obsessing over these last couple days. It's adult historical fiction, which I know might seem off-putting to some who have neatly filed "historical fiction" under B for "Boring" in their mental file cabinets, but trust me when I say that this book is

    and even though it's written for adults, there is

    of cross-over appeal for YA readers, especially YA re

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    Hello friends, I'd like to introduce you to the book that I've been secretly obsessing over these last couple days. It's adult historical fiction, which I know might seem off-putting to some who have neatly filed "historical fiction" under B for "Boring" in their mental file cabinets, but trust me when I say that this book is

    and even though it's written for adults, there is

    of cross-over appeal for YA readers, especially YA readers of darker fiction cast in the molds of Rebecca Schaeffer's

    and Kerri Maniscalo's

    .

    Our heroine, Cora Lee, was born in 19th century New York. By all accounts, this is a squalid, sordid time, but for Cora Lee, it's worse. Due to a genetic anomaly, she has

    . The doctor who delivers her into the world can't wait to acquire her tiny little corpse and puts in an offer then and there, but the family refuses. Frustrated, the doctor goes off and spews his drunken tale to all who will listen: stories of the half-Chinese girl with the two beating hearts who would make the perfect prize for a museum.

    Fast forward two decades later, and the girl who the doctor said had no way of surviving is in good health, two hearts and all. Knowing that people will kill her for the marvel of her body, she has decided to work in the same shady career that would see her dead: she is a resurrectionist, a procurer of corpses for curiosity and scientific interest. A glorified grave-robber, basically. She does her work in drag, under the name Jacob Lee, and is considered the best in the business along with her crew.

    One day she meets a man named Theodore Flint, who also seems to know a lot about the business, including the rumors floating around of a girl with two hearts. As the desire for freaks and geeks increases, some of those with curious medical afflictions begin to die under suspicious and morbid circumstances. And lest we, the readers, be too quick to pass over the dead, Kang writes of their deaths and last moments in the first person, to show their humanity in the way that their murderer(s) did not. As more and more people die, Cora Lee realizes that she's in grave danger, and that Theo, who she finds herself growing more attracted to by day, might pose the gravest threat of all.

    So I loved this book. I posted about NOT EVEN MONSTERS recently, which is basically the fantasy equivalent of this book, and it has the same "hunter becomes the hunted" concept. I think both authors did a good job discussing that uncomfortable but still highly relevant question: what is the price of a life? NOT EVEN MONSTERS is gorier than this book but neither is a picnic, and THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL had some

    dark moments, including a twist that made me raise my eyebrows the way STALKING JACK THE RIPPER did (although it's nowhere near as ridiculous).

    Twist aside, I thought this book was great. The research that went into it was obvious, and Cora is such a great heroine - I love it when heroines are strong and clever, but also allowed to be vulnerable and make mistakes. I even liked the romance, which I didn't expect to like at all. But then, doomed romance always has been my catnip. I'm honestly shocked that THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL hasn't gotten more love. It was just shy of perfection and I can't wait to check out this author's other works.

    4 to 4.5 stars

  • Ante The Zmaj

    First and foremost, I would like to thank NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for my first ever ARC.

    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.

    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 ;) )

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