Review: The Chick and The Dead: Life Behind Mortuary Doors by Carla Valentine

Cover for The Chick and the Dead by Carla Valentine

Title: The Chick and the Dead: Life and Death Behind Mortuary Doors

Author: Carla Valentine

Narrator: Beverly A. Crick

Length: 8 hours 20 minutes

3 stars out of 5
3 stars – I liked it

Trigger Warnings: Miscarriage. Grief. Cheating. Depression. Detailed descriptions of animal deaths. Autopsies on babies discussed. Detailed descriptions of autopsies.  Death of family members. Discussion of suicide victims and their bodies. Negative work environment that included jokes against weight, disabilities, and emotions. 

Carla Valentine is a pathologist who worked for years doing postmortems, but is now a curator of Barts Pathology Museum. This memoir takes a very detailed look at her life as a pathologist, which includes detailed descriptions of autopsies. 

This book was definitely interesting, but be warned it is also very graphic when it comes to autopsies, death, and her life. She doesn’t hold back any details so if you are a squeamish person, this might not be for you. Carla is a very dedicated and driven woman and I really enjoyed learning about her determination to improve her abilities and quest to learn new things. I really love reading about people who actually enjoy their jobs and constantly are striving to learn new things in the field. 

While I enjoyed this look at death, there were a few things that bothered me. She tries to be humorous at times, but it didn’t really work for me. I almost feel like she was trying to be like Mary Roach or Caitlin Doughty at times with her humor but it just didn’t work. Another issue was that at times there was an abrupt shift in topics that was a bit jarring, especially when it changed to a graphic topic all of a sudden. This also might just be with the audiobook but I am not sure.  

Overall, this was an interesting look at death and Carla’s life as a pathologist. There are a lot of heavy topics and graphic scenes in this book though so definitely refer to the trigger warnings before you pick up this book. 


Goodreads | Amazon



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