Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (The Monstrumologist #1)

Title: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Published: September 22nd 2009
Source: Library audio book
Challenge (s):  Support Local Library
Grade rate: A

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for nearly ninety years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.
So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a doctor with a most unusual specialty: monster hunting. In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown accustomed to his late night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was feeding on her, Will's world is about to change forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagi--a headless monster that feeds through the mouthfuls of teeth in its chest--and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Now, Will and the doctor must face the horror threatening to overtake and consume our world before it is too late.
My Review

I finished listening to The Monstrumologist audio book a few days ago and since then I have been thinking on how to begin this review.  This book was a rich mix of horror, mystery and something else I quite can’t put my finger on, but that combined put together a masterpiece that I am afraid I lack the words to describe.

Our protagonist and narrator is Will J. Henry, a 12-year-old orphan that is the assistant to the monstrumologist, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop.  Will is such an endearing character, and by the end of the story I felt like we intimately knew him; his loyalty, his fears, his eagerness to please his master, his resourcefulness give us a glimpse of the great man he is sure to grow up to be.  Dr. Warthrop’s character is a mix of the good and the bad.  I would like to think that he really cares for Will, but he is such an unlovable character himself, so full of knowledge and self-evident genius, and at the same time lacking the common sense and basic empathy that most people have.  *SNAP TO Will Henry*.  What to say about Jack Kearns?  Only that monsters come in all shape and sizes.

What made this novel so fascinating to me was not only the original plot, the gothic experience, the feeling of jumping out of my skin every few minutes or making disgusted faces at everyone (remember I was listening to it while driving!), but the storytelling itself.  Mr. Yancey is a master, and I bow to you sir.  Words become the things that he uses to craft a magnificent story, in which the metaphor and simile become an art.  Read this expert from chapter one:

But nothing had prepared me for what the old man delivered that night. I daresay your average adult would have fled the room in horror, run screaming up the stairs and out of the house, for what lay within that burlap cocoon laid shame to all the platitudes and promises from a thousand pulpits upon the nature of a just and loving God, of a balanced and kind universe, and the dignity of man. A crime, the old grave-robber had called it. Indeed there seemed no better word for it, though a crime requires a criminal...and who or what was the criminal in this case?

I will most definitely snap to and read The Curse of the Wendigo (which I already own!) soon and The Monstrumologist has made Mr. Yancey one of my favorite authors.  

About the cover:  Creepy, uh?  Well, the book IS creepy, and not for the weak of stomach, that’s for sure!

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