The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Publication: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (September 22, 2009), Hardcover, 434pp / ISBN 9781416984481
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, YA/Teen
Find @ Amazon or IndieBound
Challenges: R.I.P. IV (#3), Countdown 2010 (2009 #3)
Read: October 2009
I spotted this on the new books shelf at my campus library last week, and I want to know who’s picking out these books because whoever you are: THANK YOU SO MUCH. This is the second time I’ve found a fantastic book on that shelf (the first was Andromeda Klein), and without you I’d have probably never read them.
Summary from Amazon:
These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed.
But he is dead now and has been for more than forty 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 begins the journal of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.
I had previously read Mr Yancey’s The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp and didn’t love it, so it was with a bit of trepidation that I started reading The Monstrumologist. The plot was really tempting, however, and I was immediately hooked into the narrative, so I very quickly forgot my troubles with Alfred Kropp and enjoyed the journey through The Monstrumologist.
Mr Yancey’s writing has, I think, gotten much more polished and inviting, though it still sounds old fashioned. But since The Monstrumologist takes place in 1888, the old fashioned-ness fits in well, and it’s not so old fashioned-sounding that it’s a chore to read. It’s actually really elegant and powerful, and it made the book a pleasure to read.
What I liked best about The Monstrumologist was the set-up (I love societies dedicated to weird things) and the characters. Doctor Warthrop is a weirdo, though not an unsympathetic one. He’s kinda like a mix of Sherlock Holmes and the Arthurian Pellinore but cranked up to 11. He’s kinda likable, in a strange way.
Will Henry is a little harder to like, mostly because he’s writing from 80 years in the future and a lot of times he describes himself in a way that sort of…sets himself apart from the reader. Like there’s a kind of fog over his memories because he’s influenced by the future, if that makes sense?
But overall, I thought he was a decent enough person, and at the end he had enough interesting character growth that I want to see how he acts in the second book compared to how he acted in this book. Will he be more confident? More forceful of his opinions?
The Monstrumologist is gory, with enough disgusting stuff in it that I actually had trouble eating while read it. It’s not anything like the Saw movies, but it is more gory than I was expecting for a YA book and if you have a weak stomach you may want to skim (or even skip). Think The Last Apprentice books times, like, ten.
The gore wasn’t scary– it was just gross. The scary stuff came from the people, the monsters, and the atmosphere of the entire book. The monsters are scary enough (they pop out of the ground and eat people! holy crap!) but the people who hunt them are even scarier. It’s a great horror story, and it’s perfect for the RIP IV challenge, by the way.
I loved reading The Monstrumologist. It was scary and sad and sometimes it poked me in the “ow, my heart” place, and I love everything about it. I think it’ll be a great series, and I can’t wait until the next book comes out. I’m so happy I gave Mr Yancey’s books another chance, and that he wrote this book! Yay!