Friday, October 21, 2011

Review: "The Monstrumologist" by Rick Yancey

Title: The Monstrumologist
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2009

This is what you should be reading this October 31st.

The diary of Will Henry chronicles his apprenticeship with the eminent, albeit known only within certain circles, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, monstrumologist and scholar. Will's tale begins in 1888, when he is 12 years old. Dr. Warthrop has been told, secretly and in the middle of the night, of a strange and horrific creature found during a grave robbing. This monster, which he quickly identifies as an adult male Anthropophagus, is only one of a pod of the enormous, man-eating predators in the New Jerusalem area. Certain questions arise: Why are they in New England, when their natural habitat is in Africa? Why are they so many? And why have they suddenly emerged from hiding to feast on human flesh once again? Warthrop and Will must find out these answers, but they also must end this infestation before it is too late for the people of New Jerusalem.

There is a blurb on the front of this book from VOYA, which calls this novel "A cross between Mary Shelley and Stephen King." I really can't think of a better description. The horror and gore in here is so intense and ever-present,  yet philosophy is threaded throughout all of this in Will's musings as he writes down his experiences years later. Morality, loyalty, duty, and inheritance are at the heart of the novel, interspersed with the action and horror.

I love that this is a framed narrative. The book begins with a modern-day author who is given the notebooks found in Will Henry's room after his death—the proprietor of the home he was staying is interested in looking for clues within the writing to the identity of the man who called himself Will and claimed to be 131 years old, born in 1876. The first narrator then shows us this first part of Will's diary, and when he is finished with that, tells us about his often fruitless research about finding more information or ways to corroborate the story within Will's notebooks. This hearkens back to Mary Shelley and Frankenstein, for sure, a nice tip of the hat to early horror literature. It also provides us with a mystery and second storyline to follow in the subsequent books of the series.

The setting of the late 1800s makes this book seem much more like the classics we read in school, giving it an authentic taste of the Gothic that used to be so prevalent. The language is sublime and eloquent, yet still accessible for teens today. Not to mention the often breakneck pace of the story.

This is a perfect book to read around Halloween. Scary and creepy, full of suspense, plenty of blood and guts, and exquisite writing. I'll definitely be getting to The Curse of the Wendigo soon!

Disclosure: I won this book in some giveaway I never remembered entering. Seriously, this and the next book in the series just showed up at my house one day with a note telling me I won them but not what  I won them for. Whatever. I'll take it.


  1. This one truly scared the crap out of me. That doesn't happen very often -- you are right -- great for Halloween -- that cemetery -- oh, yea. Makes me want to read it again! Thanks!

  2. I'm reading this one right now! It's definitely the PERFECT Halloween read. I also won books 1 & 2 and received them after forgetting where I had entered to win. Pretty funny! Since then I've been saving them up for October and I'm pretty thrilled about having them to read at this time of year. Awesome review!

  3. This sounds like exactly what I've been in the mood for. I'll have to go grab a copy from the library. Great review, Tahleen! :)

  4. Annette—did you read the second one yet? I wonder how much that one is like the first, or if it's scarier.

    Jenny—that's so funny! I wonder who we won them from? They must have gone to a bunch of bloggers. Thanks!

    Jess—Thank you! I hope your library has it in right now, it's really right what you're looking for. Enjoy!

  5. I <3 surprise packages! I don't think I can read this one...I can't handle scary AT ALL! I'm happy to know that now though, I think this is the first review for this book I've read. I would like that it's set in the 1800's, but not the horror and gore.

  6. Really well put. I also love that this series not only provides the horror and gore, but more importantly, character depth and themes. Just finished The Isle of Blood, myself. So happy that S&S has decided to go ahead with a fourth book!

  7. I agree, The Monstrumologist is TOTALLY a book someone should be reading for Halloween.

    Those anthropophagi are legit. And scary.

    I hope you review Curse of the Wendigo soon!

  8. Jacinda--you might want to skip this one if you have trouble with gross things on paper. It's probably the most gory thing I've read in a really long time. Not that I make it a habit to read gory stuff, but still.

    Aylee--thank you! I'm happy they are going to release the fourth book too. It would be a shame to stop it just because of low sale numbers. They're very well-written!

    April--I'll try to get to that one before Halloween, but it might not happen haha. Maybe I'll read it soon though! I like the legend of the wendigo anyway, so I'm looking forward to what Yancey does with it.


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