Thursday, May 1, 2014

It All Leads Up To This

An article came out recently about three books bound in human flesh at Harvard. Since then, it's been shown that one of them is actually made of sheepskin, but that still leaves a couple of books allegedly made out of people. (And now I have an image in my mind of Charlton Heston falling to his knees and saying, "It's people! The dictionary is made of people!") I got excited when this article came out, not because I'm hoping to bind a tome in human flesh, but because the book of magic in The Graveyard Girl is made of the flesh of Rose's necromantic ancestors.

So I got to thinking about the various options available to people--and their bodies--once they die. Most people opt for a burial or cremation, and most people who go the casket route end up embalmed. In the U.S., embalming wasn't a popular choice until the Civil War when soldiers had to be shipped a long way to return home after they died. A man named Thomas Holmes is credited for creating modern day embalming, and it became a booming business. Interestingly enough, before he died, Holmes requested that he not be embalmed.

A lot of people are choosing green burials as an alternative. Simply put, no embalming fluid is used, and the body is contained in something biodegradable. There are special cemeteries that allow green burials, and having seen a number of dead bodies preserved with formaldehyde, I'm inclined to prefer green burials myself. I rather like the thought of a tree or some flowers growing over me.

But if cemeteries and urns sound too mundane, you can always turn your ashes into a diamond. Shiny!

As for Rose, her words of wisdom and her blood will end up in the book of magic to be passed on to another generation of necromancers because that's the way it's done in her family.


  1. I love the diamond idea. I had a major fantasy that I worked on for years where a species incinerated their dead and used the powdered bone for like ceramic or porcelain that were made into ornate beads and distributed to family. Have you ever read "Stiff" by Mary Roach. It is about human remains used for alternate purposes, quite interesting.

    1. I haven't read "Stiff." I'll have to add it to my list. Your idea reminded me of a short story by Bruce Holland Rogers. It's a quick read, and one that's stuck with me.